As you might imagine, Father’s Day isn’t on my top ten list for favorite holidays. I like Groundhogs Day. I can even get into the Festival of Extraterrestrial Abductions (March 20, by the way). Now, don’t get me wrong. Dads are super important and definitely deserve a day just like Mudders do. For me, it’s just kind of a ‘down in the dumps day’ ( which is a phrase my dad taught me)
So, I’m going to cowboy..er.. cowgirl up today and try to make it a positive. So here are the Top 50 reasons that my dad was pretty cool. If you knew him, some of these will probably strike a chord. If you didn’t get to meet him, you’ll probably have a pretty clear picture of what he was all about.
1. He introduced me to a variety of food. In fact, his goal was to make sure that if someone ever said, “Have you had _____?”- I would get to emphatically says, “Yes!” I’m not sure why that was important, but someone, please ask me if I’ve had pickled pig feet or kim chee. Because I assure you, I have.
2. I learned how to sink to the bottom of the car, like I was tying my shoes, when we drove past people I knew. Ever seen Uncle Buck? Those cars were what my dad drove.
3. He fought for the underdog. He believed in protecting those that couldn’t protect themselves. I’m thankful that these are lessons that I’ve picked up and have carried on.
4. He knew the first two lines to a million songs. He couldn’t sing an entire song, but he surely knew tiny portions of them. He would sing one and then hop over to the lines of another song he knew.
5. He showed me how to change my oil, change a tire, and check all the fluid in my car. He never wanted me to need help for something that should be common knowledge.
6. He was truly generous with money. He would do this pantomime like he was cracking the safe holding his wallet closed, then he would imitate moths flying out once he opened it. But Dad was good about giving when he could. He just liked to make a show of everything.
7. He happily drank eight hour old coffee… with cheap powdered creamer and no sugar. Just heat it up in the microwave and everything was happy. Now, I’m a coffee drinker, but we would have to be pretty heavily involved in some sort of war with a strong rationing going on for me to happily suck down my java like that.
8. He liked to take me fishing. By fishing, I mean he liked to take me to get a sunburn by the side of a lake. I once caught a fish, but I’m pretty sure that it was looking to end its life and used the available means.
9. One of my favorite memories is driving his old van back from PA. Now, #1, I had a permit but probably wasn’t ready to be driving that van. I turned a corner, and the pin that held Dad’s seat in place popped out. All of a sudden, Dad is doing a headstand between the two seats of the van because the seat is only being held in place by one leg. He can’t get upright and is pushing against me in an effort to right himself, which is causing me to swerve the van.
10. Dad taught me to garden. He loved nature and being outdoors. I can remember putting down fish oil and coffee grounds for our garden. It stank, but surely grew!
11. I learned to cook from Dad. At a very, very young age, Dad would tell me what to throw in the pots. I could make chili, soups, and stews when I was just a kiddo. And now, when I make them, it’s continuing the tradition.
12. He believed in hard work. His health was so bad that he should have stopped working twenty years earlier, but he continued on. He believed in the power of hard work and dedication.
13. Saturday nights were: Cops, Cops, then America’s Most Wanted. Want to know why my house is locked up like Fort Knox?
14. Dad loved history and knew about everything that had happened at any point, especially when it came to the military. He believed that remembering what happened was a way of honoring the sacrifices those people made.
15. We had Taco Bell every weekend. It was something his picky daughter enjoyed, so he ran with it. If we drove past T.B on the way to another destination, he would pretend that the car was trying to pull into the drive out of habit.
16. You couldn’t hang around with him without laughing. It wouldn’t be long before he was doing or saying something to get an audience.
17. We watched Forrest Gump a million times. He always got angry at Jenny for breaking Forrest’s heart. He would also get annoyed when I quoted the movie while it played.
18. “A real man doesn’t leave the house without a watch and a hat on.”
19. Every weekend, Dad would have a pack of Skittles for me. He would pick them up during the week and hang on to them until I got there. Many times during our drive, he would crinkle the package in his coat pocket, so I would look over. He would quickly look over and pretend to hide the candy. Then he would crinkle it again, then hide them again. (On a side note, when The Fiance & I went to visit The Sister… she had a pack of Skittles that magically appeared on our bed while we were visiting. Warmed my heart that she remembered.)
20. He would sing along with the oldies station while we drove. I knew every song on 105.7
21. He wore velcro shoes because his ‘stubby fingers’ couldn’t tie the shoes so they would stay.
22. He really, really wanted to be organized. Really.
23. Dad believed in the power of summer sausage and cheese to make a summer day a good one. (The Fiance shares that belief- it makes me smile to see that similarity. So long as The Fiance doesn’t start eating limburger cheese, we’ll be fine.)
24. He loved his mama something fierce. You wouldn’t expect it from such a burly man, but he was a mama’s boy through and through.
25. When he died, I found boxes and boxes of drawings that I had done as a kid. He saved pictures, tests, projects- anything!
26. He knew that giving me a stuffed animal (‘tuffed aminal) to hold on to was a sure way to make me feel better.
27. Dad loved Chinese take out. As The Fiance can attest to, I also love it. There’s nothing better than eating out of those lil’ folded containers while watching a movie.
28. Dad always remembered when it was one of ‘the kids’ birthdays. We would sing happy birthday to them, even though there were so many years since he had seen them last.
29. He didn’t believe in the traditional girl roles. He taught me to hunt, fish, and camp. I would help him
break fix his cars. He liked that I could handle it all.
30. When doing laundry, he would always ask if they were actually my clothes or was I washing my doll’s clothes. I would giggle and giggle.
31. Dad could tell a story like no one else. He would start with a truth..something that happened..and you would know it happened because you would be there. But soon, the story had morphed and become much bigger and funnier than what you first remembered it.
32. Dad survived (and volunteered for) two tours in Vietnam and before that he went to Korea to deal with the aftermath of the war. He was proud of his country. No matter how sick he was, he had the flag out on holidays and inside before the light fell from it.
33. When we would travel to PA, we would sing songs. Looking back, they were peculiar songs for a kiddo to sing. I know all the choruses from “The Caissons Go Rolling Along”as just a little bit. He would also explain the parts of the song. Who cares what MacDonald had going on in his farm, if the Army wasn’t there to protect it in the first place.
34. The Fiance would have gotten Dad’s stamp of approval. The Fiance had to ask my ma for permission, and I know she believes that Dad would have said yes. Dad had no time for sissy men and my future husband is pretty tough. I dare say they would have gotten along just fine.
35. Once he couldn’t work anymore, Dad had too much time on his hands. He would call at random times to report the most bizarre things from tv. Life wasn’t the same once he got cable.
36. He was always willing to help someone out and have a lot of friends because of it. At his funeral, the people that came were a rag-tag bunch (think: group of folks coming from the local carnival), but they celebrated all that he was. They all seemed to owe him a lot of money too. I received a lot of I.O.Us from them.
37. Dad had a steel-trap mind. He remembered that for his 3rd grade play, he had to tell everyone that shellac is secreted by the female lac bug. Now…fast forward even further… I remembered that dad told the audience about the lac bug. We loved useless information.
38. Dad was pleased as a peacock to learn that he was a grampa. He loved how unique the girls are and would be proud to know they are both in college. He would always say how he had “two granderkids”.
39. He had very specific movements about him… the way he held his cigarette in his hands and sorta pointed at you when he talked. Very specific movements and sound about him. It’s heartwarming to see my siblings doing something that is so very Dad. The three of them each have unique traits that are very tell-tale Dad.
40. It’s been almost six years since he died, but I’ve never had to once question if he loved me. He made it clear that no matter what else- I would always be his little girl.
41. He would have rolled his eyes and put up a big show about me getting married, but I truly believe he would have been excited by the idea of it. I can hear him now, talking to The Fiance, “Are you sure you want to deal with her for the rest of your life?”
42. Dad knew the power of a nickname. He made instant friends by giving each person a new moniker. Something usually generic started it off- “Heavyduty” then would move into specific “Roquefort” (That was my brother Chuck’s nickname. He had the misfortune of looking vaguely like the cartoon mouse when he was a kiddo). Many of his friends didn’t know that my given name wasn’t actually Mirmar (The niece of Moamar Kadafi).
43. He would leave the most bizarre voicemail messages… truly odd. He would sing or leave imitations of people. You never really knew what you were going to hear.
44. Dad taught me that I never needed to depend on a man to survive in this world. He wouldn’t stand for me to be wimpy. He strived to make sure that I was tough and wouldn’t let the world run me over.
45. He was a big softy and would get his feelings hurt if he didn’t get enough hugs during a weekend visit. Nevermind that the man looked like an ex-prison convict, he was sensitive.
46. He would tell me stories from when he was a kid. He gave life to those I had never met and let me carry their stories on with me. Dad would bring back boys who had died in Vietnam- letting them survive in my memories. He knew that no one was really gone as long as someone remembered them.
47. He was my buddy. He never missed a weekend with me. Ever. He would take me along to whatever was going on and was proud to have me around. And now that he’s gone, I often check to see if my life is one that he would be proud. Is it a life ‘you can hang your hat on?’
48. He taught me to play with the English language. We had made up phrases and terms for all sorts of stuff. I think it’s what started me to enjoy the language, which has led to so many things. ‘Hank do, Dad! Hank do very much!
49. He drank PBR by choice. Who does that?
50. Dad believed in the power of education. When he was on life-support in the hospital, I was telling him about a procedure that the doctors wanted him to do. He wrote out, “how long?” It took a couple minutes, but Ma & I figured out he wanted to know how long he could survive if he went ahead with it. Then he made a square over his head and pointed at me. He wanted to know if he would be able to live long enough to see me graduate from college. He didn’t make it to graduation, but I knew he would have been proud to see me get my degree. He knew that if I had education, I would be able to stand on my own two feet against this world.
I was lucky to have had such a powerful influence in my life for as long as I did. It’s been hard since he’s been gone, but so much of who I am is because of Dad. It makes me grin with pride when someone says, “You are your father’s daughter.”
I’m also thankful that in the absence of my father, there have been men along the way who have filled in that role in my life. My brothers have kept an ever vigiliant eye on me since Dad’s been gone. Matt will walk me down the aisle at the wedding- a role that is fitting for the way he has stepped up and watched out for me throughout the years. My cousin Doug was such a strong influence while I was growing up, though he may not know how much it mattered. I’m also grateful that I will soon have Mark as a pops-in-law, who just this morning made my heart happy by calling me his daughter while on the phone. It feels good to fill a little bit of that part that has been missing over the years.
Happy Father’s Day! Now go eat something yummy and hug someone.