Dear Dr. Laura,
My dad died 9 years ago when I was 46. I still miss him like it was yesterday. My dad was tough, but so loving, especially as he aged. When I became an adult I would jokingly tell people I never had an opportunity to stray off the "Straight and Narrow" because my dad was an ex-Marine drill instructor, a Baptist deacon, and he worked for the Texas prison system (I actually lived on two different prison units as a pre-teen and teenager!)
My dad loved my mom and his children and grandchildren. His job was to love, protect, and discipline. He took his job seriously, but was also fun-loving, and full of grace when the occasion called for it.
As my dad was dying from congestive heart failure (partially due to the extreme cold he experienced during his Korean War years), we could tell he was hanging on, because his job was to love and take care of my mom. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, I told him it was okay to go; that we'd take care of mom. My wonderful husband (we've been married 32 years now) promised him he would take care of his mother-in-law. It seemed to make a difference and he passed away peacefully. Those were hard words to say, to release a man we loved so much, but they had to be said.
To this day my husband has kept his promise. He loves and takes care of his family, and especially his mother-in-law. I've been blessed to have these two great men in my life, and now we have a 26-year-old son who is proving to follow in his dad and “Pawpaw's” footsteps. The example our kids have seen in their granddad's and father's lives has made a huge difference.
Keep doing what you're doing, Dr. Laura, as you promote family values and doing the right thing!