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Death of My Father

Photo by Shannnnon
Editor’s Note

Reading this made me cry. It contains an important lesson. Take a minute to read this story and reflect on its lessons.

If you admire someone you should go ahead and tell them. People never get the flowers when they can still smell them. ~Kanye West

I lost my dad in 2003 when I was 22 years old.

I still remember the day it happened like it was yesterday. My mom woke me up and told me that my dad had called and believes he’s having a heart attack.

I jumped in my car and drove over to his home to see how he was. On my way over there, I called him and asked if he needed me to call an ambulance. He responded “yes”. So I called 911.

I was a complete nervous wreck driving over to his home. Upon entering I saw him lying on his bed conscious with his shirt off. A couple of minutes later, the paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital.

I met my mom at the hospital and we sat in the waiting room in complete silence.

The doctor finally came out and informed us that he did in fact have a heart attack, but they will keep him for a few days to monitor his progress. The doctor believed that my dad may to go home over the weekend.

Well, he didn’t make it to the weekend.

I went to bed that Thursday night and at 2:50am Friday morning my sister called with the news that he had passed away.

The feeling that came over my body was surreal. My eldest sister called five minutes later crying, asking “why did this happen?”

After I got off the phone with her, I woke my Mom up and told her the news. My parents were divorced but maintained a good relationship.

My Mom gave me a long hug and we then drove to the hospital to meet up with the rest of the family.

I ended up burying my Dad the following Wednesday.

The Story of My Dad

My dad and I were inseparable.

We had more than your typical father and son relationship. He constantly let me know that I was his best friend and I echoed the same sentiments.

My dad and I were the same, but we were also very different.

He was very outgoing and was always the life of the party. My dad could literally talk for hours at a time and not even break a sweat. I’m the exact opposite.

I’ve always been laid back and quiet. I never liked being the center of attention. In fact, I used to get stressed out whenever I felt all eyes were on me. I was the classic introvert while my dad was an extrovert to the core.

Although, our personalities were complete opposites, we got along great. I confided in my dad and told him everything. I would tell my dad things before I would tell my best friends.


I have few regrets in my life and the one that eats at me constantly is the fact that I never told my dad how I felt about him.

I think because of my personality, it’s hard for me to open up and to tell people how I feel about them.

My last words to my dad on September 11th, 2003 were “I’ll see you tomorrow.

I then turned around and walked out of his hospital room and went home that Thursday evening. I didn’t hug him or tell him “I love you” or anything that expressed how I felt about him.

Fortunately, my dad wasn’t shy about opening up and expressing his feelings. He constantly told me that he was proud of me and “wished” he was more like me. He used to jokingly say, “I want to be like you when I grow up.”

Unfortunately, I failed to let my dad know that I wanted to be more like him. Now, every morning when I wake up, I talk to my dad for a quick minute as a way to start my day.

If God granted me five minutes with my dad, I would tell him:

  • I love you
  • I appreciate all of the sacrifices that you made for me
  • I’m sorry that I wasn’t more understanding in your time of need
  • You’ve taught me so many things that I still use on a daily basis
  • I wish I could be more like you
  • Although I never showed it, I’ve always thought the world of you
  • I would always brag to my closest friends how tight you and I were
  • You are my best friend forever
  • Once again, I LOVE YOU DAD!

Lessons Learned

Losing my dad has taught me that if I feel a certain way about someone, whether it’s family, friend, or whomever, then I need to open up and let them know.

I still have issues expressing myself, but I have improved considerably over the past nine years.

I also learned that I needed to appreciate my loved ones while they are still around and to stop taking them for granted.

My dad appeared to be the poster child for good health, and then on one Wednesday morning he had a heart attack, and passed away two days later.

Life can be so unpredictable.

I now make a concerted effort to let my mom know that I love her and I appreciate everything she’s done for me. I even got into the habit of randomly ordering flowers and having them delivered to my mom on her day off.

I’m still not as vocal as I would like to be with regards to telling people how I feel about them, but I’ve made great strides. I also make it a point to visit my nephews and spend more time with them.

We don’t receive any do over’s in life. We can’t go back and change the past.

Fortunately, we can learn from our past mistakes and use that knowledge to help us move forward.

*** If someone you loved suddenly passed away, what would you regret not doing? Can you do them now? What did you learn from this story? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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About the author

Tommy Whitaker Jr. is a self help enthusiast who enjoys helping people discover a new way of thinking. Visit his blog at Tommy’s Key to Success.

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20 thoughts on Death of My Father

  1. Flash back for me. I was 18 and my dad had a heart attack in bed. I sat with him waiting for the ambulance, but I swear, even though he was still breathing that he was dead. I felt his soul pass right through me.
    My heart goes out to you we were too young to lose our dad I was just starting to see him through adult eyes. A big virtual hug to you.

  2. Flash back for me. I was 18 and my dad had a heart attack in bed. I sat with him waiting for the ambulance, but I swear, even though he was still breathing that he was dead. I felt his soul pass right through me.
    My heart goes out to you we were too young to lose our dad I was just starting to see him through adult eyes. A big virtual hug to you.

  3. Kristy

    My next-door neighbor growing up just passed away yesterday. He was still so young, with a newly-married 24 year old daughter. I know they were very close and it pains me to think of losing a parent. Ironically this has been heavy on my mind the past two days and your story made me cry as I realized no matter how much we do, we’ll always have some regrets. I’m not sure you can ever truly say enough. But we can all learn from our experiences. My heart goes out to you.

  4. calder

    Was (is) it really necessary to have a photograph of a woman as the title shot of every post? Regardless of the content of the post?

  5. Joe

    Poignant, moving story told with heartfelt reflection – thanks for sharing.

  6. I had tears in my own eyes after reading this. It reminds me of my own relationship with my Dad– a person whom I love more than anything yet rarely ever tell him so. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story. I think I’ll go call my Dad now and tell him I love him.

  7. I’m sorry for your loss. Whether or not you’re close to your mom and or dad, it’s still tough to lose them. I thank God for my mom. She’s the world’s greatest mom as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I’ll tell her that today.

    My dad passed away in 2004, but I was too bitter and angry with him to accept his “I love you.” I wanted to hear, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” You see, not all of us had a picture perfect or “TV” type of dad. Some of us had a dad that taught us tough, tough lessons. I was able to forgive my father after years of working on myself. I now realize he did the best he could based on how he was raised. He didn’t have anyone in his life to show him how to be a different father. Then again, I’m not sure he’d listen. Anyway… I do my best to focus on the ‘good times’ rather than the bad and hard times.

  8. Derik

    This brings back memories of the relationship I had with my dad before he passed. It happened just a few weeks prior to my 13th birthday, just over 10 years ago.

    I went through a stage during this time in my life when I would hold back affectionate emotions; not giving hugs or telling him that I loved him, then one day, I sensed that I will regret not showing this emotion. I started giving him hugs every time we would part ways and would tell him how much I loved him. Shortly after I started to open up with sharing my affection, he unexpectedly passed away.

    I am thankful that I opened these doors while I still had the chance. If you are holding feelings back for anyone, NOW is the best time to make change.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Tommy.

  9. I lost my dad when i was 21, he died of cancer. When the doctor told that my dad has 6months tops to live it was the thing i denied to believe. My dad knew about it and he was trying to keep his appearance, tried to look happy that he lived with us, he was was a very strong person, but in 4 month he was gone. the only regret he had – he couldn’t hug his grandchild, who was born only 3 weeks later.

  10. Tommy

    Hi Diane, thanks for the comment! It’s tough to lose a parent at any age and there’s nothing that will prepare you for that horrific day. Worst feeling I’ve ever experienced, but you learn to be strong and remember all of the fond times because that’s what they would’ve wanted.Thanks!

  11. Tommy

    Hello Amandah. My Dad certainly had his faults but I know that both of my parents did the best that they knew how to. I’m sure your Dad meant well and only wanted the best for you. He may have went about it the wrong way, but he did what he thought was in your best interest. I work on myself everyday and thank God for the good times that I had with my Dad.

  12. Hi Tommy,

    Sadly, my father was an alcoholic, so that wasn’t in my best interest as a child. However, after working on myself, I learned that he learned his behavior, like most do, from his mother and father. It’s a cycle, until someone breaks it. I chose to break the cycle.

  13. I’m so sorry you had to learn a lesson that way, but I’m so pleased that you’re sharing it with us. I try to be vocal with all the people I love in my life, but I know there are those I love that I don’t spend enough time with. That would be a regret of mine. Perhaps it’s time to change some of my priorities to make time.

  14. Very nicely expressed feelings.. I do have such regret to one of my neighbour…

    Lets not loose the opportunity to express ourseleves to our dear ones…

  15. Grazilia

    Hi Tommy, Thanks for sharing your story. Just last before going to bed I thought to myself that I’ll write an email to my eldest brother telling how much I respect him and I miss spending time with. I’m married now so I don’t get to see him often. He’s not very comfortable with talking about feelings and emotions so I thought email would be best.
    Then I woke this morning and thought I was being silly last night and there’s no need for me to tell him how I feel. I brushed off the thought. But after I just read your article I’ve changed my mind. I WILL write to him and tell him how special he is and also I will call my parents more often. They don’t call that much coz they don’t want to bother me in the midst of my work but I’m sure they’d like to speak to me more than we do now. Thanks and blessings.

  16. Arif

    i lost my dad 2 months back. it was a shock to our family.he died in an accident.a speeding bike hit him from back side while he was walking by the side of the road.i dont get a chance to talk with is vry hard to believe that i will never see him again..

  17. Shinn

    I’d think im lucky enough to see this message!
    while im still having both of my parents
    from now onwards I’d like to call them and saying These words

  18. If someone you loved suddenly passed away, what would you regret not doing? Make them understand how much I truly love them.

    Can you do them now? To some

    What did you learn from this story? I learned what I always knew–you should appreciate the moments, the friends and families and NEVER take anything for granted..what’s hard is that some people don’t apply this into their lives even when I try.

  19. Kory

    Thanks for posting your message Diane! (Even though is has been a couple years since your loss). I had a similar experience when my dad passed. I have not told anyone until today, because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy.

    My father was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer in June and passed away on Oct 11, 2015. We had our issues in the past, but have been perfect for years. He was 81 years old.

    As the family was close by, I watched my dad take his last breath and called everyone to his bedside. As family was breaking down, I barely shed any tears. The thought that went through my head as I was standing there… What the “H” is wrong with me? Why was I not breaking down? I felt warm, comforted, no sadness and was not crying like I expected. I felt guilty for not collapsing and not balling my eyes out.

    To describe the feeling. It felt like I was looking at the bluest sky on a summers day, warmth throughout my entire body and no sadness in my heart. It felt like my dad’s spirit passed through me and was giving me the same comfort feelings as he was experiencing during his transition into heaven.

    It has been a couple weeks now and based off of your message, I will now share my experience.

    At the end of every phone call we closed with “I love you”. If you don’t do this… Start today… Life’s too short. I did have time to have closure with my dad and it saddens me if you did not have this opportunity. He is with my mom who I lost when I was 7. They are together, guiding me today.

    Thank you and God Bless all of you!

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