I didn’t come into your lives early enough to have a hand in raising you, and at times it probably seemed that I only came to steal away your dad’s heart from you or crowd you out from your seat at the table with ones for my children. I hope you know I meant to do none of those things.

I hope you know how much I loved your dad, how much I love you, and most importantly, how much he absolutely cherished you. I know you know that he was an incredible father. I hope you use every Father’s Day to celebrate him, even though this day will always be tough.

I understand little of the enormity of your loss: how it feels to not have him here to see you graduate from college, walk you down the aisle, hug you through a heartbreak, kiss your children and toss them high into the air, beam that you bought a house or trained your new puppy. I can in no way pretend to spread out and sit in both his and my chairs at any table–I am not your father and a mediocre stepmom at best. 

But, I will always guard his flame in this world, try my best to do for you as he would have done,  and celebrate your father with you in the things he taught us:

  • you don’t have to have rhythm to dance
  • jump in the pond strictly because the water is cold
  • a straw will never give you a big enough drink 
  • choose the campground over the theme park every time
  • take the windy road instead
  • don’t say “I’m sorry” or “I love you” unless you mean it in that moment
  • there is no such thing as too many friends
  • wipe the good bits off your plate with your fingers and then lick them clean
  • Coke tastes better on ice in a real glass
  • wear a hat for every occasion and make every day an occasion
  • words have power 
  • listen and take notes
  • speak out and do what’s right
  • make a plan then alter the plan like a variation in music
  • share good music and play it loud
  • eat ice cream in bed 
  • get over yourself
  • forgive 
  • risks are worthwhile one way or another
  • save the good story for dessert
  • the world is full of wonder and adventure and love and you’ll never be too old for any of them

With Love,

Mama Sue


Sue Leathers is an English teacher and mother. She had a huge crush on her husband Todd Kleffman, a journalist, when she was in high school, and she'd save his columns and stories. Decades later, she and Todd found each other through Facebook. He was the love of her life, her high school crush, and she was his biggest fan. She lost Todd in October 2017 to a heart attack. She has found solace in Hope for Widows and in writing of her own journey, and hopes to help other widows by sharing her experiences here.

Sue can be found on Instagram: @susanjanie