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For Father's Day, This Goes Out To The Dads We Lost

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On Sunday, sons and daughters of all ages will get to celebrate Father’s Day. Some will take out the man of the hour for a nice dinner or breakfast. Others will surprise him with a thoughtful gift.

Most will at least post a beautiful message on social media, thanking the old man for all he’s done.

But for many who have lost their dad, Father’s Day is a crushing annual exercise in loss. Last week, I wrote a blog post detailing my experiences with losing my father and the difficulties I’ve had expressing how his death affected me.

fathers day
Readers submitted beautiful photos of their late fathers along with their tributes.

Writing about your deceased father requires you to relive days and moments you’d much rather forget. But that post helped me find some comfort and peace, and the kind words of strangers who said the piece resonated with them helped enormously.

We invited anyone else who’s faced that loss to do the same and pen a tribute. Readers wrote to us, describing what they miss most about their dads. Their responses are beautiful, heartbreaking and, most importantly, honest. In each of these notes, you can feel the love and longing the writer has for his or her father. It's not easy to dive deep into memories and thoughts like these, so we immensely appreciate every second spent on writing these incredible notes.

Happy Father's Day. To the ones with us and to the ones we lost.

  • Emma Ingram
    Emma Ingram
    It’s hard to put into words what I will miss most about him. The fact that he was the funniest person I knew? Yes, that for sure. His quiet but steadfast adoration of my mother? Yes.

    Their relationship made me feel like it was possible to have a happy and equal partnership that could last decades. The way he could tell a story—whether it be about his childhood, my parent’s lives pre-me, or even his day? That is a definite.

    It was such a pleasure to listen to him talk.

    It keeps on hitting me that he is no longer here and every time that happens I can’t breathe and get panicky. How can it be that he no longer will be there to go see ridiculous action movies with me, make me a Manhattan when I come to visit him or be the only who can really reassure me when I feel truly stressed or deeply upset?

    How am I supposed to hit every milestone to come in my life without him there? There’s no answer I guess. I hope, and think, he knew how loved he is. And I also hope, somehow, he knows how missed he is.
  • Gillian Reilly
    Gillian Reilly
    One thing is for sure, my father was a "helper."

    There are far too many memories of my father I could speak about, but one that immediately came to mind when reading your article happened at one of our many visits to the Princess Margaret Urology department for his cancer treatment.

    The waiting room was often littered with people who looked quite down. My dad had a gregarious nature and really had the ability to light up a room. After this appointment, he got a little bit of what he deemed to be positive news. As we were leaving, he began belting out one of his favourite songs, "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba.

    Heads inevitably looked up to this surprisingly happy man singing the lyrics, "I get knocked down! But I get up again! You're never gonna keep me down!" The amount of smiles I saw walking out of that waiting room was a testament to his ability to bring light to dark situations. I will always remember that about him and will strive to replicate that as best I can.
  • Simon Pottery
    Simon Pottery
    I am going to be a father myself in just a few short weeks, and this year Father's Day is particularly more reflective and emotional than usual. As I prepare to become a father myself I find that I have been thinking about my own dad and the things that truly made him integral to my growth and success, both personally and professionally.

    Here are the things that I miss most about him:
    I miss his voice, his laughter and dry wit. It took me years to get all his jokes, but now that I do, he truly was a hilarious and observant critic of the world.

    I miss his intelligence and his experience. My father was a man of many talents and hobbies, but what made him truly unique was his desire to be as much a student as he was a teacher.

    I’m sorry that he missed both his son and daughter’s wedding, the birth of his grandson and now soon-to-be granddaughter.

    It saddens me that he missed seeing me realize my true calling of being a public school teacher.

    I’m sorry that he missed this beautiful, yet terrible world that we live in now.

    Most of all I miss his passion for being the best dad that he could be.
  • Katie Bellefontaine
    Katie Bellefontaine
    It has been almost three and a half years since my father passed away. It was Dec. 21, 2012, he was 55 years old and I was 8 months pregnant.

    I could talk about the things I miss about my dad. From the way he'd say "yup" to the way his jeans always had a hole in the same knee from kneeling down to work on his motorcycle, to the way he loved peanuts or to the way he'd always think to call me when "Dirty Dancing" was on TV.

    The things I miss the most, however, are the things he missed. I miss that he never met his first grandchild. I miss that he didn't walk me down the aisle when I got married.

    I miss that he wasn't there the day I told my mom I was pregnant again, and that he wasn't there when I told her it was twins. I miss that he wasn't here to see me purchase my first brand new car (versus the $300 car he took me out to buy). I miss that he wasn't there to see my brother get married. I miss him.

    Today, tomorrow and forever. I miss him.

    Happy Father's Day, daddy. I love you.

    Your little girl, Katie
  • Uzay Alatepe Ashton
    Uzay Alatepe Ashton
    His death 16 years ago has taught me many things. I have become braver and more adventurous. I imagine him watching me and nodding in approval. I want him to know about the things we've done. Babacim (a term of affection meaning "my baba"), if you are reading this, here's what you've missed out on since you left us 16 years ago:

    1. Babacim, I finally married the man of my dreams. Remember when you met him? He came over to watch "Wrestlemania" with you. He brought you a T-shirt. You sat on the couch together and at one point, you put your arm around him. I knew then that everything was going to be okay. If you liked him, then everything would be okay.

    2. Babacim, we moved into a gorgeous house with a big backyard. You would have loved it! Perfect for a small vegetable garden. If you had been here, you could have shown me how to plant one. I know how much you loved gardening.

    3. Babacim, we moved to Kuwait! You always said I should travel and see the world. Well, is this enough of an adventure? You would have loved it here. I wish you had been with anne (mother in Turkish) when she came to visit.

    4. Babacim, we've been traveling all over the place. It's like your dream come true! We've been to Dubai, Turkey, England, Jordan, Thailand, Cyprus, Egypt, Belgium, India, Qatar, Hong Kong, Greece, and so many others. Now we are living in Singapore. I wish you could visit us here.

    5. Babacim, we have a beautiful, smart, funny daughter named Ella. She is the joy of our lives. I tell her about you often. She calls you "dede." When we visit you, she waters your grassy grave and brings you flowers. She has seen you in her dreams. She tells me about it and I silently cry. I think you are communicating with her.

    We've done so many things. We've seen so many places. We've been on so many adventures. Babacim, I hope you can see us and I hope you are proud. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you. The pain of your death still exists, babacim, but I can counter it with the wonderful memories I have of our time together.

    I love you babacim, canim benim.

    I wish you could come back to me.

    I wish you were here.

  • Melanie Freeman
    Melanie Freeman
    I lost my dad suddenly at the end of February 2010, 73 days after his 64th birthday. I had just turned 33.

    At different points throughout my life, my father was my caregiver, playmate, partner in crime and best friend. We shared the same off-kilter sense of humour and taste for one hit wonders. We both felt that recurrent itch that signalled time to wander, see something new, get lost on purpose.

    These days, I recognize more and more of my father within me —in my face, my opinions, and that need to wander. I wish that he was still around to wander with me.

  • Rob Seaton
    Rob Seaton
    On June 25, 1997, my father took his life.

    There had been some years of financial struggle that ultimately led to his decision to do so. I was 24. It stung us all — my two older brothers, my mother, our small extended family and the legions of people that showed up in the following days to tell us how much they loved and respected him. We were all genuinely heartbroken. I had heard at that point, that you really understand growing up once you realize that your parents are fallible. I grew up that day and continued to grow through the years afterwards.

    Doug Seaton was a good man and a good father. Perhaps a little hot around the collar at times, but he was smart. He was as comfortable in his suit and office as he was in his tool belt or in the kitchen or in a boat with a fishing rod. He was funny and quick-witted. He was caring and had a soft side. I will never forget crying with him when one of his close friends died. He was tough but fair. He offered advice to us, his sons, to ensure that we didn't make the same dumb mistakes he had. When we didn't listen to him, he wouldn't say "I told you so." He could do that with a look and then it would be done.

    As I entered my late teens and early twenties, I had put some distance between us. Only in the way that I think a lot of young people that are vying for some independence do. He let me know that it hurt him, yet, there was no punishment, no reprimand. He only wanted to let me know that he had noticed. It snapped me to attention because family wasn't supposed to hurt each other. From that point forward, I think we both made more of an effort to communicate.

    I knew he was having problems. We all knew. None of us were aware to what extent though. It became evidently clear on that hot day in June.

    I wish he could have met his granddaughters. He would have loved them to the ends of the earth.

    Dad, I'm proud every time I'm told how much we look alike. I'm proud on every occasion that I meet someone who tells me that you made a positive difference in their lives. That happens more than you know.

    Dad, you screwed up royally. You short changed us all, but I won't say I told you so. You are forgiven.

    Happy Father's Day. Love, Rob
  • Olivia Gallimore
    Olivia Gallimore
    The thing I lament the most is the fact that we never got to know and love each other as grown adults.

    He will never know me as anything other than a teenager and the hardest part of losing him is never having had that chance to grow to know each other as complete people.

    So I guess the thing I miss the most about dad is something I was never fortunate enough to experience. But each day this is a reminder to strive to make him proud of the adult I am becoming, grown from a solid base he had a hand in creating.
  • Shahi Hamad
    Shahi Hamad
    I find writing to be the most therapeutic channel for release. I have tried to write about my father a few times, but a few sentences in and the tears are flowing and I stop. I still cannot write or say the words dead or has died. Passed away seems so more less finite and it's the phrase that I will use for the moment, maybe forever.

    I guess the thing I miss the most about him is a selfish one. I miss that he is not there for ME.

    That I can’t call him with my woes and worries to hear his reassuring voice and advice. I no longer feel like the world is my oyster because baba is my protector.

    I have lived in 4 different cities and quit jobs and started a fresh one one too many times. Each time with words of encouragement and blessings from my father. Your happiness is the most important he would say. He would encourage me to follow my heart and reassured me when times got tough or I regretted my decisions, telling me it’s OK to change my mind or stick it out and he would support me whatever I decided to do.

    Life is not easy he would say. Don’t make it harder on yourself. Find your happiness. He was the backbone not only to my life but my happiness, and to live without a backbone, well that is to not live at all. That is to survive.
  • Tara Klinger
    Tara Klinger
    My dad never said if his heart was breaking or if he was scared, but I imagine he was. He never complained. Not once. He was just so damn grateful for every kind thing anyone did for him. Always, always happy to see you when you came. "Hi honey, what are you doing here so late? So good to see you. Thank you for coming, you didn't have to do that. Where are the boys?" Like it was just inconceivable that I would come in to see him after having supper, like it wasn't the only thing I was thinking about all day.

    I miss my dad so incredibly much. It's just so simple. I wish he didn't get sick and I wish he didn't die. But here we are. I just have to think he would be proud of the year we have had, that the things he taught us and the things were learned from his life have guided us all in positive directions. When the doctor told my dad that his cancer was terminal, he looked at the floor, then looked at me and smiled and said 'well, I can't complain, I've had a good ride, haven't I?' I hope you did, dad. I love you as much as the world.
  • Kim Fairfield
    Kim Fairfield
    We had a transcendent bond from when I was born.

    I think what I miss the most is being able to talk to him about everything that's happening with me, sharing the day to day stuff and having him be the first person without fail to wish me happy birthday every year, the first person to wish me merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    I know he would love the fact that I have a good man in my life, one who loves me as I am. I'm sure im some way he knows already but man it would've been nice to tell him.

Check out more beautiful tributes from readers below:

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Father's Day Tributes To The Ones We Lost
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