An Open Letter To Dad


(The Hammack brood at Mom’s 93rd birthday)

July 21st would be your 99th birthday!  “Can you feature that”!

There has been a lot going on since we last celebrated a birthday with you 16 years ago.  All five of us have retired from our respective careers, our children have grown up, and some have families of their own now.

Let me tell you about the last 16 years of my life.

In the summer of 1996 I finally accomplished my ultimate career goal of becoming an airline captain.  In September of 1996 I checked out as a United Airlines B-737 Captain!  It only took 17 years from the time I got out of the Air Force and was first was hired at Eastern Airlines!  But at the ripe old age of 45, I had made it to the top of the airline world.  And whether you knew it or not, from that point on you were with me, in the cockpit, on every trip that I flew at United.

Pop, you probably think how could I fly with you on every trip that you flew as Captain?  Well, the explanation is very simple.  Shortly after God called you home, and quite frankly I am still upset that he didn’t at least ask me my opinion on that subject, I found this poem that expressed all my unspoken feelings about your death.  So I made a copy of that poem and put in my uniform shirt pocket.  I made a point of making sure that I ALWAYS had it in my uniform pocket before I left on my trips!  So, Pop, you accumulated about 12,000 hours of flying in B-737, A-320, B-757, and B-767 in the last 15 years!  Let me tell you there were some times that I relied upon your life’s experiences to pull me out of some rather hairy flying predicaments.  The last “hairy flying predicament”, a cockpit fire in my B-757, triggered some medical issues with my heart that caused the FAA to medically ground me, putting an end to my flying career 5 years prematurely.  If the truth be known, I believe that it was you who was looking out for your youngest son that fateful evening of May 16, 2010 and guided me to safety!

Remember back in November of 1973 when my life changed so dramatically by becoming a father, and you witnessed that?  Well, October 19, 2002, immeasurably changed my life once again.  Pop, that was the day that your youngest son became a GRANDFATHER, and my son, Jeremy, became a father !  Again, “can you feature that”?  Dad, I have four grandchildren.  Unfortunately, the pair of twins that were born after Cole, came into this world prematurely, and failed to survive 24 hours.  But Cole, age 8 1/2, has a little sister, Hannah who is five.  She starts kindergarten this fall.  Just a note, Cole is nothing more than little Jeremy 25 years removed!

Pop, those two children are the apple of my eye!

Now, at age 60, I better understand just how you felt about all of your grandchildren, the joy that you took being surrounded by them, the pride you felt when they succeeded.  I am now experiencing some of those feelings with Cole and Hannah!

And speaking of feelings, I still have difficulty dealing with your death.  At times there is an emptiness that I have a hard time explaining.  They say that times heals all.  However, I beg to differ with that old adage!

Time does not heal all!  Time may help you to deal with a loss or a tragedy, however, it does not heal all!

And I have to disagree with one of you favorite sayings, as well.  You would say that it will be as good as new in a week or ten days.  Well it has been 15 1/2 years since your death and I am not as good as new!

The hole is still there!

So on July 21st, your 99th birthday, I will be thinking of you, missing you, and wishing that you were still walking on this Earth!

This video expresses my feelings in a nutshell!