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Posted: June 16, 2010

My first Father’s Day without Dad

Gone, but never forgotten

Steve Baker

(Author's note: It's been four years since I originally wrote this article. Since then, I am now the very proud grandfather of our second grandson Kai, also adopted from South Korea. Life is wonderful and Dad, I still miss you.)

This Sunday is Father's Day and, for the first time in my life, I don't have a dad.

We take a lot of things for granted in our lives, including our own health and the health of our parents but last September I lost my dad and best friend. Okay, Pop was 85 and had a failed quad-bypass, and I'm in my fifties... but he's gone and it hurts.

Dad was from German and Scottish stock, which meant that he was a grouchy tight-wad. He grew up in the depression, went through WWII and settled down to raise a family of three boys. He was never touchy-feely but always there to support us, build strength, work ethics and morals in his sons.

Life gives us interesting turns and lessons, and the circle of life is a strange one. My daughter and son-in-law were trying to adopt and were on a long list for a baby from South Korea. They were granted their baby boy when he was just two days old but waited months for the papers to be certified between two countries.

Dad's operation did not go well and in a short time he was on a feeding tube and slowly dying. His wish to me was to pull the tube and let him go...and I signed the papers. At first I felt that I was signing his death warrant but my wife, in her wisdom, assured me that I was actually signing his release form.

The estimate was that it would be five to 10 days before he would die.

The morning that I signed the papers, my daughter called to say that they had gotten "the Call" and that they had to leave the next day for Seoul to get their baby boy. I told Dad what they were doing and that he was now officially a great grandfather. He smiled and said "Well, that's wonderful."

Those were dad's last words -- he died an hour later. It was as if Dad could now leave, knowing that the circle was complete.

So this is a bittersweet Father's Day for me, because I still have a father in my family, but instead of my Pop, it's my son-in law Michael -- and now I'm a grandfather to little Zachary Kim Ruggiero.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself in missing my dad. Fatherhood in the world today is often overlooked and undervalued and that's a hideous mistake. Thanks to all of the dads out there: ours is the greatest responsibility and reward possible. If you're not a dad, then thank yours for me!


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Steve Baker is a founder of successful businesses and a business advisor with a passion for every phase of business cycle from startup to exit He’s also a public speaker and author of "Pushing Water Uphill With a Rake," as well as an avid poor golfer. He welcomes your comments and e-mails at  and invites you to visit his website

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Readers Respond

Thank you for sharing this! It's 4 years since my dad passed and we weren't that close but in the later years he did begin signing his cards "Love ya" and then began to say it. What an amazing thing for his children and for him to do. We all craved it. I believe all hard feelings or disappointments were all gone before he passed away due to a stroke and he did live 2 months after the stroke so we were all able to say goodbye to him in our own way. We were blessed to have that chance! Even my mom was able to talk to him over the phone with him just listening about their good memories together and how she had forgive him. (they had been divorced a LONG time!) WOW! Miss you daddy! By Annelie Rudlaff on 2012 06 18
This is my second Father's Day without my dad. I lost him in November 2010. It was a bad year, all around, but losing my dad was the straw that broke this camel's back. Although my dad and I really didn't get along well for most of my life, a few years back we seemed to bury our hatchets somewhere other than in each other's heads. We enjoyed talking with each other on the phone, and he began telling me that he loved me, which he had never done when I was growing up. After I turned 50, he seemed to understand me a bit more and accept me for who I was, rather than for who he wanted me to be. I miss you, Dad! Happy Father's Day! By Michael McGrath on 2012 06 16
Great article! Happy Father's Day! My father made his transition in 1997--I learned many great lessons from him. He was a disabled Veteran out of the Korean War --who made his life work--despite having just one arm and no "disabilities act" to help him. He raised a great family, was active in the community and always helped others. By Sharon Shores on 2012 06 16
Thank you for sharing your story Steve. I lost my dad a few years ago and your article brought tears to my eyes alomg with fond memories. By Richard Sharp on 2012 06 15
Steve, thanks for this wonderful tribute to dad's everywhere. Mine passed away in January of this year. He will always be remembered for his big heart and willingness to help anyone with anything. By Jeannette Seibly on 2010 06 24
Steve, Thank you for posting this. My daddy died on September 19, 2009. I miss him so much & with Father's day so near, it reminds me even more of how much I miss him. I want to tell you to be happy that you had so much time to be w/ him. I'm 23 & my daddy is already gone. I know that it still hurts the same but still cherish all those memories. I'm lucky I got 23 years w/ my daddy... my youngest brother only got 16 years & he has cerebral palsy and is legally blind. I can only imagine how this has affected him. Good luck on Father's Day. Remember your dad is always with you --- in your memories & in your heart. Thank you, Sandy D. By Sandy on 2010 06 18
Your article about your dad has helped me appreciate my dad more, as well as my being a dad. Thank you for bringing more meaning to life’s relationships through your article. By on 2010 06 17
That is a beautiful story and a touching article. May the joy of your grandsons' presence comfort you in your father's absence. By Lauren Brombert on 2010 06 17
Thanks for the article and reminding me of the importance of taking advantage of opportunities to appreciate and spend time with our Fathers, Children, Grandchildren. All we are truly blessed to have. By Mark Werner on 2010 06 17
Steve…..Thank you for your piece about your first Father’s Day without a father. This year I’ll celebrate my first. Celebration seems a strange word to convey my loss, yet the richness of my father's legacy, is full and eternal. He was the best man that I have ever known. Your article brought a rush of tears, yet warmth. I miss my father so very much, yet feel him beside me constantly, his ethic there to guide me and inspire me…….It will be a special Father’s Day By Jeffrey Hill on 2010 06 16
Steve, Thank you for this article. Like you, I lost my father in October, and it will be my first Father's Day with out my Dad here. While I miss him terribly, I am also thankful that he was right here with me for so long. I think of those less fortunate than I who have lost their Father's so much earlier in life. There is power and healing in sharing, though. So,thank you. Happy Father's Day, Janet By J. Monk on 2010 06 16
Thank you Steve for a great article! Happy Father's Day to you too!! By Chris Lutyen on 2010 06 16

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