Little House on the Prairie

‘Little House on the Prairie’s Melissa Gilbert Opens Up About ‘Indelible Imprint’ of Losing Her Dad in Father’s Day Post

Little House on the Prairie icon Melissa Gilbert is mourning her late dad this Father’s Day. But she’s also celebrating all the inspiring and “healing” fathers in her life with a positive and reflective Instagram post.

“My father passed away when I was just eleven years old yet he left an indelible imprint on me and my life,” she wrote. “Every year since his death, I feel his loss most acutely on #fathersday. THIS year, however, as I put this post together, I see all of the incredible fathers who are in my life now. Seeing how much they each love their children is so incredibly healing for me. Happy, Happy Father’s day to @samboxleitner @timbusfield #dakotabrinkman #alexfinch and @willybusfield ! I love you guys so much!!”

In a series of photos, the classic TV star highlighted her stepson, William Busfield, who became a first-time dad this past April when his wife, Angela, gave birth to their daughter, Rosemary. And she paid tribute to her son, Dakota Brinkman, who just wished his only child, Ripley, a happy first birthday.

Melissa Gilbert also posted a photo of her husband, Timothy Busfield, a father of three, posing in front of his growing family.

Melissa Gilbert Lost Her Father to Suicide in 1976

Melissa Gilbert lost her father, Paul Gilbert, to suicide in 1976. But for most of her life, she believed that he peacefully passed away in his sleep after suffering a stroke. It wasn’t until she was 45 that she learned the truth about Paul’s death.

As she detailed in an Instagram post, her father was a World War II vet who was injured in combat. And because he was never properly treated, he lived the rest of his life “in excruciating unrelenting pain.”

While  “under the ‘care’ of a dysfunctional VA health care system,” Paul threatened suicide on several occasions. However, no one ever took him seriously. So on February 13th, 1976, “he shot himself in the head with a .38.”

“[I] had to walk through a whole new kind of trauma and deep, gut-wrenching grief,” she wrote of learning the truth as an adult.  

“I wish, like me, he could have known the unbridled joy that grandchildren bring,” she continued. “I wish, like me, he could have the love of a true life partner. To feel cherished, safe, and most of all, heard,” Melissa continued. “So today, as I do every day of every year, I will choose to honor his decision and his choice. I choose to ‘hear’ him and cherish him and keep his memory safe.”

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