To Dad

I bought a gift for my father four days ago for Father’s Day. It was nothing particularly special as he was living in a nursing home due to advancing dementia and there was not all that much I could give him as his life grew narrower and narrower, both physically and mentally. In addition to the gift, I was going to sign and inscribe a copy of my latest novel (War Hawk this year). This had become a tradition over the past several years. While he couldn’t really tackle a novel, he would read the inscription, pride shining on his face, something even his dementia could not diminish.

Unfortunately, my father passed away on Friday, two days before Father’s Day. I had not yet signed that edition of War Hawk. It had been sitting on my desk for the past week. Yesterday after dealing with funeral homes and the thousand small details that are required to tidy up a life, I held that book in my hand. I could have shelved it away without signing it, but it felt too much like a final good-bye to my dad, a finality that I was not ready to accept. So I inscribed one last book to my father. He’ll never read it now. But I know somewhere his face is shining with that same pride.

So all of you hug your dads, tell them you love them–but also show them. Know that the holiday is as much about thanking them as it’s a chance for fathers to take pride in their children. Cherish those moments and don’t take them for granted. Because there may come a day when you’re holding a gift in your hands, with no one to give it to.

So to all the fathers out there who love their children and take pride in their accomplishments: Happy Father’s Day.

to dad


  1. Jennifer Monroe
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your father. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Kathleen Selby
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

      I lost my dad Thursday June 9th, a week before Father’s Day. He was 93, also bed ridden. He lived at home with my mom who is 91. I have a caregiver in the house 24 hrs a day. My dad was a WWII Navy Veteran, he was on the aircraft carrier Makassar Strait. I lost my hero, and mentor. You see I was adopted. My parents picked me out of about 150 babies in a Boston orphanage. I hit parent heaven when they chose me! I could not have had a better upbringing! I know the pain you are feeling, it basically just sucks!! I miss him more everyday! My heartfelt prayers go out to you.

  2. Erin Tanner
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    So sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and your family in your time of need.

  3. Ashly Gray
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for this reminder. I pray that I always remember to cherish the time I have with my Dad, and when the time comes for me to say goodbye, I won’t have any regrets. This is a wonderful gift, and I am positive his face is still shining down on you with pride.

  4. David
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    My wife and daughters were in tears when I shared this with them. Our condolences to you and your family. Your father has every reason to be proud of you and all you’ve accomplished.

  5. Bill Howard
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    I am so sorry for your loss Jim. Your sentiment hit a chord with me. I lost my father 43 years ago and I still think about him every day.

  6. Patty Kline-Capaldo
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this reminder.

  7. Courtney
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

    Our condolences for your loss….may God keep and bless you and your family

  8. Michael DeCamp
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    My thoughts and prayers are for you. I, too, have felt the loss of losing my dad–first to dementia and later to a heart attack. In one of our last conversations, I asked him if he knew who I was. He replied, ” I don’t know your name, but I think you’re a nice guy.” I appreciate your comments in the inscription.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Chithwe
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

    I’m sorry for your loss. Deepest condolences.

  10. Judi Easley
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Right now, it may not feel like it, but given a little time, this will get easier to bear. I, too, lost my Dad, 4 years ago. My eyes still tear up when I think about it, but I can function again. Right now, just put one foot in front of the other and in time, you will find your path again.

  11. Ivory
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

    Jim, we are deeply sadden for you and your family for the loss of your father. Yes, I too believe your father is smiling all the way to the moon and back. May he rest in peace. Although we do not know you and your family, our thoughts and prayers will be with you all.

  12. Eric Escalera
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

    Love and prayers, I’m so very sorry for your loss. Mine passed just a year ago in May. We had just made amends after a lifetime it seems of not speaking to one another. I’m sure he’s looking in you with a very proud smile on his face. Again love n prayers ……


  13. Adam
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  14. Lesley Cullen
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    Your Dad will always be with you James. He is sleeping and dreaming in your heart of all those wonderful stories you have told him. He is with pride forever. X

  15. Lesley Cullen
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    He is smiling with pride.

  16. Vicky
    Posted June 20, 2016 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    I just recently lost my Mother just a week before Mother’s Day, so I understand how sad you feel. My thoughts are with you.

  17. Francesco D'Ambrosio
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 12:00 AM | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your lost Jim :(. Death is not the end, it’s the start of a new adventure.

  18. Mike
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 10:19 AM | Permalink


    I am a fellow author and your books continues to inspire me to this day. Very sorry for your loss. My Grandma died from the same disease so I know all too well the pain. Once again very sad to hear of your loss.

    Hang in there,
    Mike Esola

  19. Liz
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Winnie the Pooh

  20. Robert Child
    Posted July 7, 2016 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    So sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad when I was four and grew up without one. Which has made me determined to show my sons and daughters what a father can be and can mean to a child. I have no example to go by just instinct and love and that seems to be the key. Your bond with your Dad will remain even though he is no longer here. It will not lessen if that is any comfort. My bond with my Dad whom I never knew is stronger today than ever. I feel his guiding hand and wisdom as well as pride. I dedicated my last book to him which is about the unbreakable bond between a father and a son. I just felt I had to share this with you. RC.

  21. Jo Anne Knight
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    Just now reading this, James. So sorry for your loss. As my husband and I are reaching an advanced age, we feel saddened by the knowledge that we may not have that much longer together and with our beloved family in this dimension. Even though I am now 75 and he will be 80 next month, we feel so blessed to have had 53 years together but still miss our own parents.

    We are Believers and trust that our souls will reunite with our loved ones and each other after this life is over. I loved the line in the movie “Interstellar” when Matthew quoted Einstein: “In order to overcome gravity, we must leave something behind.” Leaving behind our frail bodies and, in some cases, even more fragile brains won’t be so bad, will it?

    Your faithful reader,
    Jo Anne Knight

  22. elide
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 6:06 AM | Permalink

    I’m sorry for your loss.I’m sure you showed your love to your father a lot of times and then he lives forever in your heart and memories.Big italian hug from me !!

  23. Wendy
    Posted September 4, 2016 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    Sorry just saw this, so sorry for your loss! it is so sad, I lost my dad on Christmas 6yrs ago!
    we always think dad is going to be there when we need him! I miss my dad everyday to day, and I think of the fun and crazy things he done, he always had the funniest expressions that would make me laugh!!
    sorry for your loss! sending prayers for you and your family.

  24. robert
    Posted September 18, 2016 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    just finished the 6th extinction and decided to look up your other books and read this. my father passed on june 9th this year. was going to take him a photo album of a trip he didn’t get to go on with me and my brothers. it’s heart breaking. but i think about him everyday, always will. i don’t think it gets any better with time. but we go on. anyway, my condolences.

  25. denis
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:24 PM | Permalink

    peace be always with you. move love

  26. denis
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

    much love i meant

  27. Jack
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 7:14 AM | Permalink

    This is a touching tribute. So sorry for your loss.

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