Here is a revised version of last year's Father's Day column, written especially for those of us who grieve for the loss of our dads. I hope you are encouraged by it.
How can it be that it was six years ago this Father's Day when I last heard your voice? When you painfully - yet tenderly - whispered a barely audible goodbye in the form of an "I love you, Judy-Pie"?
They say it gets easier, Dad. They're probably right, but that doesn't take away the ache felt by myself, friends and readers who'd give anything just to hear their dads' voices - just one more time.
We'd love to sit in summer's cool shade and hear you speak our names the way only you could say them.
We'd love to gather the family and ask, "Tell us that story about when you were a kid and you..." We'd roll our eyes for old time's sake and love every minute of it - just one more time.
We'd love to be a kid out on the athletic field and look toward the stands to see your face; or strain to find you in a sea of parents from the third row back in our spring concert; or grumble when you'd pull us out of bed too early in the morning while the fish were biting. Heck, I'll bet there's even a few of us out there who would love to hear you remind us to mow the lawn - just one more time.
We'd love for you to meet your grandchildren's spouses, hold your new great-grandchildren, and hear you say, "Take one more picture - just in case that last one doesn't turn out" - just one more time.
I'd personally love for you to see how your grandchildren have grown - from my son who used to skateboard and take things apart to see how they worked, to the granddaughter who cried when her pinkie blanket needing laundering, to the youngest granddaughter who wouldn't leave home without her beloved Anna doll.
They've grown up, Dad. One's a husband and father, one's transferring to a university and the youngest is starting college. I'd love to hear you say, "See? I told you they'd grow up fast" - just one more time.
I'd love to gather together the friends and readers who wish their childhood could have been better, because I'd humbly introduce them to you. "This is my hero," I'd say.
I know what you'd do, just like a lot of dads out there; you'd brush off the compliment. "I made mistakes," you'd say. "I've always wondered if I really did make a difference in your life."
"But you did. You're the best, Dad," I'd whisper.
So this Father's Day, I'm hoping my friends and readers will join me in honoring the men in our lives who not only attended spring concerts but came home exhausted after a long day of work with little complaint.
Who gave their best through ordinary days and wondered if they did anything extra-ordinary.
Because something tells me that when we say, "You're the best" this Father's Day, we'll be saying it to you, too - just one more time.
Happy Father's Day, Dad, from your little girl.
Judy Halone (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. She welcomes readers' favorite childhood memories. Copyright © 2008 by Judy Halone.