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Suburban Island

My Dad
Sunday, Jun. 15, 2003, 3:29 p.m.

QUESTION: I wonder what happened to Sister John Francis?

WHAT I LEARNED: Dads can be heroes without even knowing it.

Today is, of course, Father’s Day. Why do we buy ties, cologne, and a variety of shirts for dad? Why do we lug home ice cream cakes with Happy Father’s Day scrawled across them in bright colored icing? Why do we take dad out to the local steak house, withstanding huge lines and clinging hopefully to restaurant beepers while we wait endlessly to finally be shown to a small table accessorized with huge steak knives and ads for oversized breaded onions? Why do we go to see manly movies with fast cars and larger than life heroes? Well, maybe because dads do things all the time for their kids that may go seemingly unrecognized and that wacky tie and drug store cologne or that greatly awaiting steak and baked potato are the only way a kid can say - thanks for everything even the things you think we didn’t notice.

Fathers can make a difference in their child’s life. I know my dad has. He has done a lot for me over the years. Some of the things were big, like putting me through grad school, and some of them are small like calling me just to check in when I get a bit overwhelmed by my daily routine these days. I can never thank my dad for everything he’s done for me in my life but here’s a few things – some big and some small – that I’d like to let him know I appreciated over the years on this celebratory day dedicated to daddies.

Thanks Dad for:

  • The fancy ladies costume jewelry necklaces you brought home from the drug store where you worked evening as assistant manager after your regular day job so you can take care of all of us. I still remember them. They were splendid. I wasn’t even 5 years old and you made me feel glamorous.
  • Buying me the expensive brocade cloth for my 8th grade sewing project and not getting annoyed when we found out they really said cotton broadcloth.
  • Knowing that the stuffed dog I really wanted for Christmas one year was the really big one. Even though mom told you to take it back and get the smaller one, it made me happy to know that you had gotten that enormous stuffed pooch to start with.
  • Buying me expensive little veal sausages from the German deli because you knew I loved them. I know you had to walk a long way to get to that special shop. They were fabulous.
  • Taking me out on my birthdays and letting me schedule all the events for the day. Those are happy memories.
  • Reminding me that I could do anything for a short time – even stand on my head (I’m not sure about that one but maybe a modified headstand with some spotting). That one statement got me through all my latest bursts of higher education.
  • Dragging us out to Sunday mass when we were kids and taking us to the drug store afterwards – before it opened for business – and then letting us run up and down the aisles. That was amazingly cool.
  • Teaching me the delights of great literature. The library of classics you had at home gave me a lifelong hunger for reading good books.
  • Talking to the stern nun who terrified me in the 4th grade. You effected a change in the intimidating Sister John Francis towards one skinny little 4th grade girl and I am forever grateful for your intercession.
  • Purchasing that wonderful used Wurlitzer upright piano for me when I was a teenager and begged for piano lessons, and then driving me to lessons 45 minutes from home ever single Saturday morning for those last high school years.
  • Taking us to the theater as a family when we were kids. You provided me with a love of live theater that I have been able to pass on to your grandchildren.
  • Buying me a stick shift Super-Beetle and assuring me that I could learn to drive stick when I was an automatic-only driver. That skill impressed the boys and took me through two beautiful Mustangs as well.
  • Talking me into being an economics major and then not being disappointed when I chose a different career in the end. I could never have been an economist, but like that stick shift, my undergraduate degree in economics has continued to impress the boys, friends, casual acquaintances, and potential employers.
  • Picking up half the cost of college room and board when we lived 20 minutes from campus for my junior and senior years. Living in a sorority house was a unforgettable experience.
  • Letting me have friends over for our family Thanksgiving one year when I was in college. It made me feel very adult.
  • Driving the whole family across the countryside in un-air-conditioned cars for summer vacations/visits to relatives. That was a lot of behind-the-wheel time but it was always so much fun to see our cousins or go to the beach.
  • Giving me extra spending cash for a spring trip to Fort Lauderdale when I was in college before the times of Girls Gone Wild. Without it, I wouldn’t have had any money to spare after room, food, and gas expenses. I had a blast.
  • Always being there for me in the end, no matter what our disagreements or differences.

Thanks Dad for these and all the many other things you have done for me over the years and the many sacrifices I am sure you made on my behalf. Have a Happy Father’s Day!

Your loving daughter

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