A Letter to John Francis Foster…

dear-dadHey, Dad, I just realized while looking at my day planner the other day that you’ve been gone for 49 years.

Somehow it doesn’t seem right that you only lived 47 years.

I guess it’s strange to consider you’ve been dead for more years than you were alive.


Somehow, I can’t help but believe you’ve been observing things since that fateful October 13th in 1969 (Friday the 13th, by the way), but I felt like I ought to reach out to you today.

I’ve been married to that big-eyed little gal Geneva for nearly 50 years.

I remember when she said she wanted to show you her engagement ring and didn’t want/need me there.

My Mom and I weren’t sure she’d go downstairs to see you.

You’d love her.

She’s so artistic!

I catch myself wondering some of the amazing things the two of you might have created  together.

Remember when you made that large replica of the moon out of paper mache`?

It was complete with all the craters and such, painted  with a phosphorus paint so it would glow in the dark and covered  in glass beads?

Neav is good at coming up with things like that.

You should see some of the things she’s created.

Sure wish I knew where your model of the Rock of Gibraltar wound up.

There’s no place in our house where we could display it since it stood over 3 feet tall but that big, gold thing that you created out of paper mache`and coat hangers served the old Prudential Insurance Company office in Mansfield, OH well for many years.

I thought about that rocket you made out of carpet tubes.

We painted it silver with a red nose cone.

Remember that year we attached it to the chimney on our roof and you stuck Santa on it?

Straight out of the 60’s!

Gosh, I have a grandson older now that I was when you passed.

How can that be?

You’d have 5 great grandchildren to spoil and the fact that 3 of them are guys would show you we broke the “girl’s only” streak on our side of the family.

I think you’d really enjoy our daughters because they are truly “Fosters”.

We actually had 3 but daughter Karey only lived 17 days and passed but that’s something you and Mom could relate to.

Nikki and Stacey are as different as they can be but you’d get a kick out of family gatherings and the lively talk that always happens.

They both have good husbands who are good fathers and good guys but they’re also as different as their wives, our daughters.

I never forget coming home from Texas and USAF basic training when you died.

I was a “slick-sleeve” Airman Basic when I had an Army general stand next to me at the airport  in the  restroom.

He noted my uniform and said, “Troubles at home, Airman?”

“Sir, yes Sir!” I replied while standing before the porcelain facility.

“Well, I wish you luck, Airman”, was all he said.

He knew.

My guess is I wasn’t the first “soldier” he encountered on his way home after a death in the family.

Uncle Gene picked me up that night at the Columbus, OH airport and he had Neav with him.

He was so distraught with your passing that he drove the entire way with a dead fly on one of the lenses of his glasses.

I was so glad to see my fiance` but I couldn’t be happy because you were gone.

When I got home, Mom told me how they found you on the back step where you sat to take a break from mowing the lawn.

I knew it was sudden because I heard there was an unfinished beer nearby.

That’s always a sure sign.

Mom said you told her you had planned to write a letter to me that day.

It was that possibility which made going back to basic training after emergency leave a bit more tolerable.

I remember dashing off to the mail room when I arrived in San Antonio.

But, there was no letter waiting for me.

Gotta tell you that might have been the lowest moment of my life.

No hoped-for letter from you and lots of miles between me and my fiance` who I now missed more than ever.

Plus basic training to finish.

I felt like I had to look up to see bottom.

You probably knew that Neav and I would be married but your passing expedited that timeline just a bit.

We got married about 10 weeks after you died.

So, here I sit, 49 years later, way older than you were and  I catch myself thinking.

Would you be proud of me?

I think you would have been virtually intolerable talking about your son, “the one on the radio”.

You would be 97 next year.

I try to imagine what that would look like or be like.

But I always see that image of the sun-reddened guy on Pelee Island with that damned blue, red and white tam you always wore there.

Dad, they’re making available a never finished Sinatra recording of “Lush Life” on a re- released Frank Sinatra Sings For Only the Lonely album.

Sure’d be nice to listen it on the juke box while sipping a few cold brews with you at the Golden Key, Dad.


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