“A One-of-a-Kind Dad,” June 15, 2021

Who’s the first person on your list for Father’s Day cards? Recently, I took a mental list of six names into a store and stared at a rack of cards, hoping to find six that were perfect, or at least not too terribly bad.

The list did not include my dad, my stepdad, my granddads or my children’s dad, who all left this world long ago. They were good fathers. You’d have liked them. I loved them dearly. I often give thanks, not just on Father’s Day, for what they meant to me and my children.

But I no longer send them cards. Instead, I take a few moments to remember each of them and things they did that made me happy. It always puts a smile on my face. I think they’d like that better than a card. And besides, they didn’t leave a forwarding address.

Why do Father’s Day cards (the few still left when I shop for them) often seem unbelievably bad? Don’t dads do more than fish? Or grill? Or take naps? Or tell dumb jokes? Some might do all of those things. But that’s not exactly why we love them.

My dad never touched a grill. He loved to fish, told a lot of corny jokes, and after years of changing shifts each week at the mill, he might nod off mid-sentence. But I loved him for being the kind of father I needed, who made me feel smart and capable and loved.

My late husband was well respected as a teacher and a coach. The high school gym where he coached is named in his honor. He wasn’t someone who’s easily summed up on a greeting card. No one is, really. But more than a teacher or coach, he was the kind of father our children needed to become the people they’ve become and to raise the grandchildren he never met, but would adore.

Much like their dad, my two boys are wonderful fathers. My youngest has three children, ages 10, 8 and 6. My oldest has two little ones, a 2-year-old firecracker and a beautiful 1-month old baby girl.

My son-in-law, bless him, never knew his own father. But he is determined to be the best dad ever to his little boy.

And my stepson is a fantastic, full-time, stay-at-home dad to his three babes, ages 9, 4 and 2.

I wish you could see them all.

For the past 20 years or so, the first person on my Father’s Day card list has been Papa Mark. That’s what our grandkids call him. He never knew my children (except through my columns) until after they were grown.

Before we were married, when he was just my editor and friend, what I liked best about him was hearing him talk about his two boys, and seeing how devoted he was to them, though they lived hours away and he saw them mostly on weekends.

That was a lifetime ago. I had no idea of the kind of grandpa he would become to the nine grandchildren we now share. The kind who reads to them. Plays music with them. Grills burgers for them. Hunts lizards with them. And brings their nana her morning coffee.

On my latest shopping trip for Father’s Day cards (for Papa Mark, my two boys, my stepson, my son-in-law, our brother-in-law and a nephew who just welcomed his fourth child) I spent nearly an hour rejecting card after card. Finally, I rolled my eyes and picked one for my husband that read: “The Man, the Myth, the Legend. Happy Father’s Day to one of a kind.”

For the others, I ended up with cards that were a bit sappy, but true. Not perfect, but the best I could find. I signed them all “Happy Father’s Day! So glad you’re a dad!” Papa Mark signed them, too (except his own) and took them to the post office.

When the dads open them, we hope they’ll know we think they are exactly the kind of fathers their children need. And that they’ll remember the old saying that goes: It’s the thought (not the card) that counts.

Comments

  1. Betty McNall says:

    Thank you Sharon! I’m 81 and my father loved to fish,hunt,and cooking on an open fire at the lake,and camping trips, 3 my 4 children to meet him but way to early died at the age of 54! Miss him Delhi’s Birthday and Christmas as he love it! Pulled jokes I’ll the time and raised 3 girls! We each 7 years older than the next and I’m the oldest at 81 as of June 3! So keen my messages to heaven as I’m sure he is watching over all of us!

  2. Kate Sciacca says:

    “My dad never touched a grill. He loved to fish, told a lot of corny jokes, and after years of changing shifts each week at the mill, he might nod off mid-sentence. But I loved him for being the kind of father I needed, who made me feel smart and capable and loved.”

    Mine touched a grill often…. And burned pretty much everything he put on it. Grills in the sixties were not the best, shall we say, “design”. And you really shouldn’t put Chris & Pitts barbecue sauce on that chicken right after putting the chicken on a hot grill… never ends well 😂😂

    But that second part…. Making us feel smart and capable and loved. Yes. Fathers are THE SINGLE most important person in the lives of young girls. We choose our spouses based on how our dads treated us… and we believe ourselves to be worthy of respect. Finally, we wonder about folks who don’t find US wonderful and lovable….. “Poor them”, we think… “we’re so dang lovable… must be THEIR problem!!” 😂😂😂

  3. Lynn Weiss says:

    Your columns always touch my heart. What a beautiful tribute to the wonder of good fathers everywhere. Thank you, Sharom!

  4. Clara McMichael says:

    I love this..my Dad passed in a car accident when I was four..left an emptiness forever in my heart. Your article prompted me to think of all the good Fathers that are in our family and moved me to write and tell them today. Good Fathers are treasures and all my children are among them. You moved my heart to tell them this week.

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