How do you say goodbye to your daddy?

Rewind 13 years
I will let the Florida clouds lift my words to tell the story of this fighter pilot and 30-year veteran’s journey from earth to sky. But why should you care to read this narrative?
I won’t be offering any blog post lessons like “Nine Ways to Say Goodbye to a Loved One.”

Instead, I want you to know my daddy. His name is Richard Lloyd Raymond.
I call him DADDY BEAR.
As you consider who to elect as our next president, our country needs to remember and appreciate “officers an gentlemen: and heroes like him to emulate.

Richard was born New Hampshire Strong–a breed of a man born in 1927 who carried the ancestral DNA of  Liberty George Raymond, his 3x great uncle. Sadly Liberty’s life ended at the Battle of Fort Sumter fighting for the Union’s vision during America’s Civil War. (See the movie Glory to better understand his sacrifice.)

At 18 daddy saw the Pacific conflict of WWII as a Navy corpsman. Inspired, he became an officer to serve his country as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. Then, with the resilient, loving support of his beautiful bride, Clare Ann, he distinguished himself and rose to the rank of full Colonel in the United States Air Force. He’d later say that the most rewarding work of his career was leading a team to welcome home and transition the largest group of POW’s from Vietnam back into freedom.
He accomplished all this and more with an eighth-grade education as the class valedictorian at 14.

Imagine that my Daddy Bear served our country and survived three wars until…

Photo: Lisa Pender

October 1, 4:00 am
Daddy called from Florida to ask my permission to die.
His cancer had returned.
There was no parachute plan.
No hope.

This was it after 20 years of remission.

I lived with my daughter on the coast of Honduras. My school year had just started as a fifth-grade teacher.

My planned life forever changed after his sunrise call.

The exquisitely painful and beautiful dance of life and death washed over me as I made plans to return to Florida.

October 3, Sunset

Mom and siblings Cathy and Michael gathered on this sacred family evening around my parents’ bed where daddy laid in a coma. We circled to honor a great warrior and laughed through snot-nosed sobs to sing every song imaginable.

His heavy breathing said, “I know you are here. I am still here.” When our family choir stopped, his breath slowly quieted.

Photo: Barbara Knowles

October 4, Sunrise
I woke to wonder why daddy had not left yet. The Whisper said to open the sliding glass doors–doors that opened to the pool patio to what we call a “birdcage” in Florida.

To my surprise, the doors were already open! Mom announced she was off to the store and would be back in a few minutes. She hoped that he might feel comfortable to now leave his earthly flight suit if she wasn’t around.

So I sat beside him and took his hand. Hearing his soft breathing, I began intuitively matching it….inhaling…exhaling.

I said in my firm school teacher and first-born voice, You have to go now, daddy. Mom is so tired. We three kids will take care of her.”

We matched a few more breaths.

Then…I felt and heard the last breath of the man who listened to my first baby breath.

My daddy was now free to soar to new adventures!

Photo: Jennifer Hills

October 15, Afternoon 
While sitting at a stoplight in torrential rain, tearful emotions overwhelmed me. Unable to see the cars in front of meI  pulled over onto the road’s shoulder.

“What is going to happen now? What can you tell me, daddy?”

Blubbering, I looked up to see double rainbows busting out of the rain clouds. I had never seen double rainbows!

Now I knew everything would be okay. The next day I flew back to La Ceiba, Honduras with my daddy in my heart.
He was flying high above.
He was soaring.
He could now freely “zoom in the sky!” 
(This is how my baby brother replied when asked what his military father did in the United States Air Force.)

How do you say goodbye to your daddy?

You don’t.

“Daddy Bear,” aka USAF 2nd Lieutenant & Pilot Instructor, Webb AFB, TX, 1955

Join the Conversation


  1. What a moving story, Lore. Words fail me. I cannot express how this made me feel. It's a beautiful tribute you wrote. I always believed that we carry our loved ones in our hearts forever, and that they watch over us from heaven, showing us signs, just like a double rainbow.

  2. Lore I am moved to tears reading this. Such loving and tender words poured out of you for your 'daddy'. Forever in your heart, forever love this is.
    My heart is full this October, as I read of a girl, now a woman and her dear hero daddy.

  3. Dearest Lore, I an so honored to get to know your daddy through your beautiful story. It gave me chills and touched my heart. I lost my dad this year so I can relate and I also saw a double rainbow on the day of his funeral. I told my mom and my sibling on the way home from the cemetery that dad is smiling at us from above, letting us know he is ok. Sending you a big hug.

  4. Beautiful Lore thanks for sharing, such a special moment and to know he is always there with you. I was with my father when he passed, not such a happy place as he was in hospital after a fall and after he passed his pacemaker kept going for a while. thank you xx

  5. What a wonderful story Lore. Your dad was a true hero while in the armed forces and during the last matching breaths you two had together. Thank you sharing these precious moments with us. And I agree with you, we never say goodbye to our daddies.

  6. This gave me chills too. My father died a little over 20 years ago of a stroke. My sister and I didn't get to see him much during the last 3 1/2 weeks of his life, because he was in the MICU and we were minors. He was a hard worker and loved his family, and it was VERY HARD on us when he died. It still is hard at times. BUT…God lets him visit me now and then in my dreams. 🙂 Every now and then I have a dream where I see Papa and he's alive and doing stuff with myself and my family. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Sometimes the dreams don't even feel like dreams! I wish I could have had him longer, but I guess God needed him more, and I'm glad he's in a better place now. Thanks again, Lore! God Bless!

  7. Such a beautiful tribute to your Daddy Bear, Lore. My sister's husband moved on at Christmas, she's doing such an amazing job of supporting her two little boys who will probably never remember their daddy, but still have to say goodbye

  8. Thank you, Lottie, for your kind words. My hugs go out to your sister and her children. She's blessed to have you as a sister to support her through this portal of grief…not easy.

  9. What a beautiful tribute to your dad, I send you big hugs. As someone who lost her beloved father recently, you are so right, you don't say goodbye, he is always there in spirit and in memories. I also saw a double rainbow at my dad's funeral and a day before I went to meet my siblings this summer. it is such a blessed message of love from him.

  10. I did not get the chance to say good-bye to my dad before his passed, but I think about him often and feel him with me. He sends me messages all of the time and I hear his laugh everywhere! It's not good-bye, it's just "see you later."

  11. This moved me to tears Lore. I agree with you…You just don't say goodbye to daddy. I never could. There are dreams of my dad coming back to visit me happily and playing with my little girl. He and by little brother who passed as well come visit very often in my dreams. They look happy, glowy even. So yes, never goodbye.
    xoxo, Z~

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