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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Dad

I always thought my dad was the strongest guy in the world. He was in the Navy, he played college football, his backhand was so quick and strong, that when he would smack one my brother's, I'd feel it. But when I saw him cry at my brother's funeral, I learned the meaning of authentic strength.

He was quiet, resolute and dependable. A man of few words, that didn't give in to idle chatter. He had earned the respect of all us kids, yet was able to break out in laughter at the crazy and silly things we did.

He supported us in our interests - music, sports, scouting. As long as it was affordable.

He taught his sons how to be gentlemen, and gave his daughters a good example so that they would be able to choose good husbands. I think he did fairly good job at that, for the time and effort we were willing to pay attention. Good manners and etiquette were important to my dad - he taught me the rules and proper actions of golf ("It's a gentlemen's game," he used to say) long before he taught me how to hold a club. For that one little thing I will be forever grateful.

Seeing my dad pray, on his knees, every morning, is an image I will always remember.

Disappointing him when I didn't practice sound financial prudence during college left a lasting impression. I made sure I didn't let that happen again. There's something about being held in good esteem by a father - whether it's nature or nurture, sons strive to make their dad proud. For mine, it was doing our best at everything we did ("A job worth doing is a job worth doing well," is another of his well-used statements) - grades, chores, anything. Some kids go overboard to win the love and affection and approval of their dads - for us, we knew that our dad always loved us, so that wasn't a problem. I think he was more concerned that we didn't embarrass our mom.

As he grows older (he'll be 83 in September), he's slowed down quite a bit. Although you wouldn't know it the way he and my nephew were mowing down the competition during a makeshift euchre tournament last weekend at his anniversary party. I think they lost one match in about three hours.

So Happy Father's Day, dad! Thanks for the lessons. Even now, long after all the kids have grown up, moved out and started our own families, you continue to teach.