Today is a very poignant Father’s Day. It was Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21st, 2002, that I reported in to the Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer’s Academy to begin my training. My father had been moved in to hospice earlier that week and I was going to reschedule my attendance at the academy until my father’s doctor assured me that Dad would still here when I returned.
When I arrived at the academy I called my father to tell him I arrived okay. He was confused about who I was and told me he couldn’t talk to him right now because he was waiting for his son to call him and let him know he had arrived at the academy. I hung up the phone and called him right back. “Hi Dad! Happy Father’s Day!” I chimed. “I wanted to let you know that I just got to the academy.” This time he responded like himself. “Hey Buddy, I was worried I would miss your call.” We spoke for a while before he told me I better get checked in with the academy staff. I told him I loved him and would call him after my first day of class.
It was the last time I got to talk to Dad. On June 22nd, the cadre at the academy pulled me out of class shortly after lunch to tell me my father had passed away. It took 13 years to get here, but today exactly 13 years ago was the last time I ever got to speak with Dad. The only thing about that day that I can take comfort in is I did tell him that I loved him and the last thing I heard from him was “I love you too buddy.”
My father was far from perfect. He was an alcoholic, a womanizer, and was always looking for a way to get ahead with the least amount of effort, but he was my father and we only get one.
So, if you are reading this and your father is still living, go see him or call him. Talk about good memories and when you’re done, make the last words to him before you leave or hang up be “I Love You Dad!” There are no guarantees that you’ll get to tell him again.