Thank You, Dad

One week ago today, I lost my father.

It was sudden, completely unexpected, and awful to witness. There are images that will haunt me for the rest of my life; sights and sounds and smells that will always bring back what was the worst week of my life.

But there was also comfort, by friends and family, priests and even strangers. And what comforts me most of all, other than my faith that my father and friend, a good man in a world that is sorely in need of them, is in a wonderful place right now. He left this world with no loose ends. His was a good life, a happy life. He passed away knowing his family was strong, there were no quarrels, and successful and content. If ever a person could leave this world with a sense of closure, it was him.

There are little things that upset me, small closures that will never happen that seem trivial but trouble me when I think about them. Before he died, he talked to me glowingly about Dennis Lehane’s new novel and how incredible the last half was. When I picked up the book, I noticed the bookmark was placed 6 pages before the end. We had also talked about his finally watching the season finale of Bates Motel, a show he and I both got into this spring. He never got the chance to see how it ended. I wanted to take him with me to a horror convention in the fall so he could see with his own eyes all of the things he instilled in me come to fruition as a writer. We played bocce and looked forward to many, many games together, sharing a drink and a laugh as we played with or against one another. Out of all the things we’ve done over our adult years, those games mean the most to me. It’s where he became as much my friend as my father.

What I want to do is thank him for all the things he did over the course of my life. He’d just turned 70 in April and I’m not usually a mushy card writer, but this time around, I did list some of the things I was most grateful for so he knew the impact he’d had on my life.

So dad, I know you’re still reading this blog. Here’s the entire list I should have written. Dad, thank you for:

  • Giving me life and a loving home, first in our apartment in the Bronx, across the street from the cemetery, then our house where you and mom have stayed for over 35 years.
  • Horsey-back rides. Those are some of my earliest memories as a kid in that apartment.
  • Bringing home issues of Mad and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines, especially when I was sick. They cemented my sense of humor and love of horror.
  • Putting together monster model kits in the kitchen while listening to college radio replay the old radio serials.
  • Annual summer vacations, where you showed me the beauty of Maine, a place my family now calls our home away from home.
  • More drive-in movies than I can count, watching flicks that made me the envy of all my friends.
  • So many other movies, most especially the twin bill of Dawn of the Dead and The Kentucky Fried Movie when I was 10. That stands out as the single greatest day at the movies in my life.
  • An appreciation for a cold beer, a breeze to shoot and the ability to relax and not run myself ragged trying to keep up with everyone around me.
  • Being a dad to Amy, accepting her into the family and always making her feel loved.
  • My absolute love of reading, which then became a compulsion to write.
  • Being there for me when Amy was so sick, and giving me a chance to collect myself without going bankrupt.
  • Teaching me to be a man, to be responsible, caring and loving to my family.
  • Being a great grandpa, playing wiffle ball with the kids, putting together put-put boats and slippng them $5 every time they were at the house.

I could write this list for days and never come to the end. The thing is, with each line, my heart grows heavier.


I miss you. We all miss  you.

And most of all, we love you. No past tense. That will never change.

Rest in peace. You earned it.

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About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. You’ll also find him every week on the Final Guys podcast, available everywhere. He’s a bestselling author of over 30 books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

13 responses to “Thank You, Dad”

  1. Joseph Pinto says :

    Aah brother…when my dad got sick, I always told him “see you later.” There were never any goodbyes. And so it is for you now.

    Here’s a comforting hand on your shoulder, a cold beer in your hand, an ear ready to listen. Most of all, prayers for you & your family. Your dad is where he needs to be; it’s ok to miss him, but don’t feel bad

  2. Adriana Noir says :

    This was a beautiful tribute to your father, Hunter. Never knowing him, I can still say he must have been a wonderful man to raise a son like you. My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to you and your family.

  3. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Hunter, as much as it hurts at this moment, and as much as you are missing him, you said yourself he had no regrets and was able to move on to the next stage of the journey knowing his family was strong and loving. For every word you write on that list of fond memories, know he is writing on it too with his own favorite moments. Celebrate his life. Love, not sorrow is the place to focus your energy. Hug your girls, kiss your wife and know that he is smiling as he watches you.

  4. Sarah Lieurance says :

    My prayers go out to you and your family. What an awesome man and thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Scott DayOH says :

    Hunter, wow – my deepest condolences. I know I don’t know you – “know you”, but what you wrote was amazing. There is something else he gave you. How to be a father, to be that dad your kids will remember, as you remember him.

    I wept reading this list, not only for your sorrow, but the feeling it stirred in me. When my father died in 1995, my brother and I were sad – but we think it was because of the place he held as “father”, but not for being a dad – he was never, ever that.

    I envy the wonderful memories you have and that you’ll pass down. Celebrate him.

  6. Brian James Freeman says :

    It’s a rough time when you lose someone you love and who has meant so much to you. I’ve come back here a couple of times today, wanting to post something really eloquent, but all I can say is you have my deepest condolences.

  7. David Richards says :

    My condolences. I lost my father several years ago. It’s hard. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man.

  8. Renae Rude - The Paranormalist says :

    Like Brian, I’ve been trying to think of something profound, or at least useful, to write, but nothing has come except a deep sense of wordless empathy. I lost my father when I was nine, and I hardly knew him. Only as I’ve aged, and gathered stories about him, have I come to realize that I I am pretty much cast in his image.

    It’s clear, from what you’ve written, that you and your father were alike in all the best ways. I’m glad you got to know your dad, and that he got to know you as an adult. I hope you continue to take solace in knowing that your dad loved you and respected you, and that he lived such a complete and satisfying life.

    Your appreciation of the legacy he’s left for you is a beautiful thing to see.

  9. Jonathan Janz says :

    Hunter, you choked me up with this, and while I know this doesn’t ease the pain of his passing, I know these things (and I’m using the present tense because of my own beliefs–not trying to push them on you or anyone else): he knows how much you love him, he is as proud of you as any papa can possibly be, and your successes as a writer fill him with a glow that is too brilliant to behold. And I know one more thing. He has a wonderful son in you. You’re an outstanding human being and a truly good man. Your dad has a great deal to do with that. He did an awesome job as a father. You do him proud, and you’ll continue to be a tribute to his great works on Earth.

  10. hookofabook says :

    Still holding your family in my heart. I know how much your Dad meant to you and how hard it will be to not have him around. But he was a great Dad. I found myself wishing for that list you wrote. But I do know what a great Dad you also are to your daughters and that both will find a stand-up man one day due to the love you and your Dad have showed them. {Hugs}

  11. Craig Mewborn says :

    So sorry, Hunter. He sounds like an amazing person. Hold on to those special memories.

  12. the happy horror writer says :

    I am sorry for your loss, Hunter, sorry for the suddenness of it. Life is inexplicable and capricious, and that hurts. The tribute you wrote for your Dad is proof that even while it hurts, life also brings great joy and beauty. Thank you for sharing, and by sharing reminding me of that essential truth. My thoughts are with you and your family.


  13. Tim A Feely says :

    Hunter I am so truly sorry for your loss. I lost my Mother two years and I know all too well the feelings of loss as well as the knowledge that he is at peace and in a better place. He is truly very blessed to have such a loving son. I know how proud of you he must feel and how loved he always felt. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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