Dear Dad,

Dear Dad, is an award-winning short documentary film created by Melissa Pihos.   “The film explores the effects of Alzheimer’s by juxtaposing photos and footage of her father from his days as a player for the Philadelphia Eagles, during the late 1940s to mid-1950s, with images of him today. But it’s the relationship between Pihos and her father –– illustrated through pictures and letters, most notably one written by her father after her parents’ divorce –– that proved especially poignant for the filmmaker and her audiences.” (goTriad June 2009).

Dear Dad,  plays a significant role in PIHOS A Moving Biography which toured last summer as Alzheimer’s Association benefit events in Charlotte and Winston-Salem, NC, Philadelphia, PA and New York City, NY. The show is headed to Lubbock, TX in November 2013. I am setting the work on Flatlands Dance Theatre.

” The show explores various aspects of my Dad’s life and his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. It will help raise financial support for Alzheimer’s Associations as well as raise awareness to the devastating disease that plaques our nation.”

-Melissa Pihos

Dear Dad, Awards and Screenings:

Twin Rivers Media Festival, Asheville, NC -May 2009, Western North Carolina Achievement Award, 3rd Place in Experimental film division

Tacoma Film Festival, Tacoma, WA –  Oct. 2009

Couch Fest Films, Seattle WA – Nov. 2009

Indie Fest, LaJolla, CA, Award of Merit for short documentary Oct. 2009

Carolina Film and Video Festival, Greensboro, NC – Feb. 2010

Mike Ditka recently added Dear Dad,  to his Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund website:


29 thoughts on “Dear Dad,

  1. Melissa,
    I am Ginny’s mom, and she shared your very moving film with me. Thank you so much for sharing your love and hope for your dad. My mama also has alzheimers, and I too miss our talks. Yet, like you, I still feel her unconditional love. Love never dies.

    1. Thanks so much Debbie. I am sorry to hear your mom has Alzheimer’s. If you ever need to talk or anything. Please contact me at My mom feeds dad 3 times a day and she knows a lot about the medicines and various roadblocks you may run into along the way. Take Care. You’re Right! Love never dies.

  2. Your Mom’s cousins, Sue Van Doeren and Billie HIlliard and their daughters – Michelle and Julie – had a great lunch with your Mom and Grandmother today. They told us of your wonderful career – (Michelle is also a dancer), and of the letter to your Dad. We all found it meaningful. Thank-you for sharing your journey. I once did music therapy with Alzheimer patients and they and I enjoyed it so much. Our best to you. Maybe we can get to NY to see your show.

    Sue Van Doeren, Billie Hilliard, Michelle Van Doeren and Julie Hillieard

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to watch Dear Dad and for being such loving, wonderful cousins…. I love you all

  4. Daughter Dearest,….as a 12 yo boy, I was priveliged to see your Dad play against the Chicago Football Cardinals in Comisky park (Chicago).
    I really do remember him,as he was “all over the field”, and he made my Dad made as hell, playing so well against his beloved Cardinals !!
    It was in `53,or `54; I was a BIG Eagle fan, as they had the neatest helmets in football. I remember seeing several of the Eagle players getting off the streetcar carrying their own helmets !
    Although I could not pronounce his name at first, I heard the public address announcer saying “PEE- hos” on the tackle or on the run.
    He was a terrific athlete !!! Now that he`s in Heaven, he can run, and play again with all his old pals,….after all, there`s got to be someplace for guys as good as you Dad to play again.

    I look forward to seeing you film; excuse my spelling errors,…there are tears in this old man`s eyes.

    My warmest personal regards to You and you Mom.

    MD Conroy Md

  5. Having Lived just a few miles from Philly, in Mt Holly, I was a died in the wool Eagles fan in the 40s and 50s.
    Pete was a favorite and a great player.
    I am an old man now and still remember his exploits.
    Quite frankly most of them were heard on the radio as only rich guys had TVs…but I saw a couple of games in the mid 50s.
    My wife died of dementia last year and it is a terrible disease, robbing them, and us, of their wonderful essence.
    RIP to Pete, and my heart goes out to you, Melissa, and the rest of your family.

  6. Dear Melissa,

    What a beautiful film and beautiful tribute to your dad. Even in his wheelchair he was obviously a formidable man. Wouldn’t have wanted to be between him and the goal line if he had the rock in his hand.

    Now, no one is between him and the goal line.

  7. Dear Melissa
    I was so sad to hear that your dad has passed away. As a youngster growing up in So. Phila. in the 50’s I remember him as everyones hero.
    Pihos, Bednarik, Kilroy, Van Buren were household names. At least in our house. These men played for the love of the game and when the game was over there was nothing left to bring back to the locker room. They left it all on the field. I was saddened to hear of his illness later in life. Take comfort in knowing that deep inside him somewhere, he took great comfort knowing that his family was there and cared deeply for him. Please convey my deepest sympathies to your entire family.
    Jim Stuempfle

  8. I was extremely priviledged to spend an afternoon with your father about 10 years ago.He shared his experiences about his serice in WWII and his time in the NFL. He impressed me greatly in that he did not brag about his military duty. He saw it as what he was suppossed to do.We had a wonderful chat about General Patton whom I idolized as a boy when the movie came out.Pete also autographed his NFL picture for me with the HOF designation. Although I am a lifelong Redskin fan, I will cherish my afternoon with him always. Stan Davis, Salem, Va.

  9. I saw the story about the dance you are creating in order to share your Dad’s life with others. It led me to this website. You’ve made a beautiful film showing the reality and rawness of dementia, and how it brings all of us, no matter how famous or mundane we may be, to the same place at the end of our lives. In the end it all comes down to doing the best we can to encourage and care for those we love. It’s difficult to watch our family look so far away as they lose their memories, but like you I believe that somewhere deep inside they do know sometimes that the person with them is special and is someone they can trust to keep them safe and loved. You and your mother gave him great gifts of unconditional love.

  10. Hi Melissa,

    I remember you as a little girl at St Leo’s and how sweet and happy you were in those days..Now I know why..You were loved by your mom and dad..Thanks for sharing your dad with us..I am so proud of you !!

  11. Melissa,
    This film really struck me….as it reminded me of how my dad was at that stage, but my dad was cranky and would yell more….lol.
    My father passed away at 72 and was not himself for 3-4 years earlier, so I feel that I was robbed of telling him how I felt about our relationship and didn’t know I needed to until too late. Hearing your letter brought tears to my eyes. I hope you are healing well and will try to see your show when it comes to Philadelphia.
    Take care and Thank You for all that you are doing to let people understand this horrible disease.

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  13. Melissa,

    I found your site and watched your film.

    Many years ago, my mother got an autograph of your Father on a Pro Football Hall of Fame Card. I trust you know which one, 1991 Enor.
    Would you care for me to send it to you ? Your Documentary is touching.

    Carson W. Fleharty

  14. Dear Ms Pihos: What a touching story and film. I was lucky enough to know Pete when he came to Tulane Un as the end coach in 1960 and I was a senior end on the Tulane team. He was a coach who was truly interested in his boys and took the time to get to know us off the field and treated all of us fairly and toughly on the field. Every athlete has his favorite coaches and it is always ones who made a difference in his life while playing sports – Pete taught us to stick to it and give every practice and game everything we had, lessons that carried us on in life. That year, Pete was instrumental in getting me selected to play in the Blue-Gray Post Season Bowl Game in Montgomery, Alabama – my wife and I both thanked him because that is where we spent our honeymoon. I have often thought of Pete later in life and another player, Pete Abadie, and I still often tell Pete Pihos stories when we get together with some old college buddies from those days. I was very sad when I originally heard Pete was ill many years ago and the troubles you and your mom had taking care of him and avoiding memorabilia hunters. I was happy to see your memorable film and that you all were all there for him. A great guy who will be fondly remembered by all of us who had the good fortune to know him and play for him. Thank you for this film and the opportunity to again remember Pete.
    Cameron Gamble

  15. What a lovely tribute Cameron Gamble has left for you about your Dad, and a nice compliment of the film you created to tell of his life and the effect Alzheimer’s had on all of you at the end. The touching story you’ve shared with us all will have a great impact for years to come on so many. Your Dad would be pleased.

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