My Dad

My dad was born on April 21, 1937 in Elm Creek, Nebraska.  He died on December 29, 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa.  He would have been 78 years old today.  This post will be hard to write.  I miss him.  I have learned a lot in the last 4 months since he passed away.  I have learned a lot about my Dad and I have learned a lot about myself.

When I was a teenager and young adult people told my Dad and I that we were so different.  We thought we were different.  But, as time moved on it became obvious that we weren’t all that different.  I chose a different career path (which frustrated him), but in the end we were very similar.  I am loud like my Dad, I have a limited filter with what I say like my Dad, I married a woman that I knew would be a great mother like my Dad.  I struggle with anxiety like my Dad.  I love politics like my Dad.

I miss him and my Mom.  I sit in his condo and I try to sort out the lessons that they taught me.  I also try to collect the wisdom that they might still offer me.  It is hard to sit in his empty condo.  My Dad should still be here, but in truth, he was ready to be somewhere else.  That’s not easy to accept.  As I move through the stages of grief I get caught up in depression, reflection, and loneliness.  I am lonely without my parents.  Even in the days when our communication was just a weekly phone call it was a lifeline for me.  Now that is gone.

Even though I am caught up in this very reflective mood, I want to continue to honor my parents.  First and foremost I intend on honoring my parents by being the best possible father I can be.  I can be better at that for sure.  I have a great son, and like many things, because he is great I have to remind myself that we still have work to do together as father and son.  My parents were great, but my father made mistakes (which he knew).  The good news is that we were able to talk about those mistakes, as well as the mistakes I made as a son.  I have work to do as a father and I promise to keep working on that.

I also want to honor my parents by working harder to be an agent of change.  My father’s biggest frustration was when he knew things around him needed to change and he couldn’t get it done.  I am committed to doing all I can to be the change that I want to see around me.  I will refuse to have my voice muffled.

I miss both of my parents dearly.  On my Dad’s 78th birthday I hope all of you who read this will call your parents (if you still have them) and tell them that you love them.  I am fortunate.  I last saw my father on Christmas day.  He wasn’t feeling well and I was getting ready to travel on a short vacation.  I told him I didn’t want to go on the trip, but he insisted that I leave.  He told me he was feeling better and I told him that he was lying, but that I would play along because that’s what he wanted me to do.  I vividly remember that my last words to him were, “I love you and I would do anything for you.”  He knew that was true, but he knew he was ready to move on.

I’m not sure when I will be ready to accept that my Dad is gone.  I love him and I would still do anything for him.  Tonight I will have a little whiskey and be sure to tell him again how proud I am to be the son of Don and Colette Kearney.



  1. Happy birthday to a wonderful man. Hugs to you Pat! I have heard that the first year is hardest…not that that makes it any easier. Through your wise words you have been honoring your dad and continuing to make him proud!

    • Thanks Jen. I suspect that there is no amount of time that will completely heal the feelings of loss, but I know that our Dads are with us in ways that we can’t possibly understand. I think our fathers would have really liked each other, which is to say, your Dad seems like a wonderful man as well.

  2. You brought back many memories and feelings about my parents, Pat. I lost my dad when I was just 32, and my mom when I was 54 (I just turned 74 last week). Not a day goes by without thinking of my parents, and how lucky I was to have had them. I, too, try to still make them proud of me….

  3. Another nice post Pat. Lost my dad in 2006, and my mom in 2013. It’s hard. In my case, my four siblings helped this transition a lot. Did not see you mention sibs, so you may be an only child. In any case, writing is a great healer, and I’ve been enjoying yours. See you at IBA? Perhaps a whiskey for all our ancestors would be in order! jd

  4. I can really identify with your feelings and my dad died in 1986 and Mom in 2000. Even after all these years, there are many things throughout each day that remind me of them – and I miss them. I do think it’s helpful to be able to share and remember them. Thank you for expressing it so well.

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