I’ve made some bad decisions in life, and depending on their degree of severity, the impact of those choices linger long after the action is complete.

But I’ve also made a few good decisions along the way, ones that I don’t regret, but am glad I did so. One is buying my wife a dog for Valentine’s Day. Even though I should have done it years ago, it was a great move. I think I may be nominated for Husband of the Year.

Seriously, this time of year reminds me that I did the right thing about three years ago as my dad was in the hospital recovering from surgery to repair the damage sustain to his hip due to a fall. Since dad had difficulty hearing, I decided to write him a letter of thanks, expressing appreciation for how he lived his life and the example he set for me. Writing allows me to craft words into a message, and I wanted him to know how proud I am being his son.

Little did I know, those would be the last words I would ever get to communicate to him. He passed away a very short time later, due to complications from the surgery. When we arrived soon after his passing, I saw the letter next to his bed. Mom told me about reading it to him. I was so glad I took the time to say what I did.

I’ve decided to print the letter here, as much as a reminder to me to act on those little promptings I get once in a while. Many of you knew my dad and you know what he was like. He was what some refer to as a “hinge generation.” He refused to pass on the family traits that were given to him by his father. Though he was yelled at as a boy, he never treated me that way. Growing up poor, he never wanted me to go without, but neither did he give me everything I wanted. He is a man that grows larger in my eyes with each passing year of his death.

Funny how I remember this, but my very first thought when I knew he was gone was that he would never see my restaurant. I would never be able to slide a pint across the bar and watch him be proud. It’s been almost three years now, and while I don’t have that opportunity, I do have the letter, and I think the latter is the more important one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dear Dad,

I wasn’t sure when I would be able to talk with you on the phone, but I figured I might be able to better express some things in words on paper than in voice. I am so sorry you broke your leg and are holed up in the hospital. It sounds like you have a good amount of support around you, and for that I am very thankful.

I just wanted to say how proud I am that you are my Dad. Of all the things I have learned from you over the years, the fact that you are not a bitter man is of high importance to me. Karen was imagining you saying after the fall, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t done that.” She, too, has watched your response to life’s ups and downs with grace and style.

Often friends of yours will comment to me about what a great spirit you have within you. They tell me how positive you are, how you always have a kind word to say and a gentle graciousness in your demeanor. I smile with pride as they tell me these things, knowing it could be different, but you have chosen not to let the harshness of life affect you. I remember watching Ray over the years become colder. You have not done that. That is a wonderful gift, more than you know.

I know the days ahead may be uncertain, but I stand with you and what needs to be done. However we can help, we will. Whatever decision needs to be made, so be it. That’s another lesson you and Mom have taught me. Complaining won’t change things, but the right attitude will.

My prayers for you include a regular request that the Heavenly Father’s presence would be very near to you. I know He is proud of you, your life and contribution you have made as a result of your faith. I have aimed high as a result. Hope you get well soon.

Love,

Kevin

No regrets