Independence Day – Dad, You’re Free!

July 4, 2010 · 13 comments

in Personal

Fourth of July is coming to a close. Today is day 2 of my 3-week Tour de Blogging. I held off writing this post, unsure if I wanted to express my sentiment. I then decided to add a new category to this blog: “Personal

Independence Day honors the birth of our nation and so much more.

I cry every year I see fireworks.

I am proud to be an American, but such pride does not bring tears to my eyes.

I cry because of independence – a different kind of freedom than most Americans celebrate with parades and BBQs.

I cry because I am undesirably free from my Dad, who died on the 4th of July too many years ago.

Independence Day Letter to My Dad

James Lee Lookadoo

James Lee Lookadoo - High School Picture


You were only 33 when you went home to be with the Lord. I was only 4, soon to turn 5.

You spent 2 weeks in a coma in Stanford Medical Center. I remember visiting you before that, however, and seeing you joke with the nurses.

You always had a way with the ladies, so I’m told. I heard that when you were in boarding school, you got caught “taking pictures” on the girls’ side of the campus. You were a photographer for the high school newspaper, but somehow you didn’t have any film in your camera.

You were a practical joker who also played a mean game of football.

Countless people have told me you were a good man, one who always kept his word.

Every person who knew you told me, over the years,

“Your dad never knew a stranger.”

You liked to get dressed up and wear fancy ties. My Grandma would tell you, “James Lee Lookadoo, you sure look good.” You’re reply would be, “I know.”

James, Dana, Betty Lookadoo

Dad, Dana & Mom

I remember you pretending to be a big monster and shaking the house. The house really shook. I was convinced you were the strongest man in the world. Years later I would learn it was a coincidental earthquake!

Because your kidneys were slowly failing, you had time at home to play with me. That time blessed me with memories most kids that age don’t get.

I remember having birds and fish. I remember you holding me as I stood crying when my goldfish died.

I cry still because you died.

I am told your funeral was packed, standing-room only.

James & Betty Lookadoo - Wedding

James & Betty Lookadoo - Wedding

I remember holding my Mom and telling her I would take care of her. I’m still holding her and taking care of her. She’s my best friend.

It’s taken many years for me to write this letter. Just days ago I got up the courage to make home movies of you into DVDs.  I’ll watch them with pride and thankfulness that I have you as my heritage.

I asked my Mom the other day to bring me some pictures. She pointed at the album and quietly said,

“He was a good man.”

I am proud to be an American but more proud to be your daughter.

As I close this letter, I ironically hear fireworks bursting outside. I’m glad God called you home on the 4th of July. It was your personal Independence Day. You’re free!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sean Maguire July 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Hi Dana,

A very sweet and touching testimonial of your dad. I am sure he is quite proud of the person and woman you’ve become.

Warmest regards,



2 Lori July 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Oh Dana, what a sweet post. You brought tears to my eyes. Your father was obviously an amazing man, and while he died all too soon, he left behind such a wonderful legacy: YOU! Thank you for having the courage to write this.


3 Dana Lookadoo July 5, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Sean, sometimes that’s all the glory I ever hope for, is to make my Dad proud.

Lori, gosh, that means a lot. I don’t have any children, so legacy isn’t something I think about often, but I guess I’m living it.

Thank you both, immensely!


4 Ron Hanshew July 6, 2010 at 7:52 am

Such a beautiful letter and lifetime of thoughts. I feel honored to be able to read it.
Yours, Ron


5 Dana Lookadoo July 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

I had not put into words that it is a “lifetime of thoughts.” Thank you for that, Ron! Very appreciated!


6 Luis SeraFin July 4, 2014 at 7:14 pm

A father would be proud to get a letter written especially for him from his daughter that contains so many heartfelt sentiments. I am sure your father feels the love and admiration you have for him. Even though his life was short; he made an impact in his life by giving you fond memories that are still real and that you cherish. Thank you for sharing something so personal and close to your heart. Every time I get a new glimpse into your life I am impressed and amazed with you as a person! I feel privileged to know you! May the Fourth of July continue to bring you joy and fond memories of all that is good; great parental examples and the freedom we enjoy in this country!


7 Dana Lookadoo July 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Gosh, Luis… I’m privileged that you took the time to write such a heartfelt comment. Amazingly, I’m told I have my Dad’s personality, and his continues to impact mine today. I’m thankful for your friendship and GREATLY appreciate your thoughts and love!


8 Landa Peake July 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Dearest Dana, I never knew what happened to your dad! I am so touched by your beautiful letter. You have grown into such an amazing woman of God and your dad has been in the great crowd of witnesses watching and praying for you all these years. I truly believe this is our temporary home and you will be with him in our eternal home some day when death is completely defeated! This reunion will be joyful beyond comprehension! For now you have his love and memories and truly what a legacy! You look like him! I am so thankful for the gift of your friendship! I pray that you continue to shine brightly in our Lord and completely recover in your body! With much love and prayers, Landa


9 Dana Lookadoo July 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Landa, what a touching comment, gosh… If I can shine even a little as brightly as my Dad, then all is well. I definitely look forward to seeing him again! Love you and relish those prayers!


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