HAPPY FATHERS DAY, DAD
Today I was at the shopping mall and I spent a lot of time reading the
Fathers Day cards. They all had a special message that in some way or another
reflected how I feel about you. Yet as I selected and read, and selected and read again,
it occurred to me that not a single card said what I really want to say to you.
Youll soon be 84 years old, Dad, and you and I will have had 55
Fathers Days together. I havent always been with you on Fathers Day nor
have I been with you for all of your birthdays. It wasnt because I didnt want
to be with you. Ive always been with you in my heart but sometimes life gets in the
You know, Dad, there was a time when we were not only separated by the generation
gap but completely polarized by it. You stood on one side of the Great Divide and I on the
other, father and daughter split apart by age and experience, opinions, hairstyles,
cosmetics, clothing, curfews, music, and boys.
The Father-Daughter Duel of 57 shifted into high gear when you taught me to
drive the old Dodge and I decided I would drive the 54 Chevy whether you liked it or
not. The police officer who escorted me home after you reported the Chevy stolen late one
evening was too young to understand father-daughter politics and too old to have much
tolerance for a snotty 16 year old. You were so decent about it, Dad, and I think that was
probably what made it the worst night of my life.
Our relationship improved immensely when I married a man you liked, and things
really turned around when we begin making babies right and left. We didnt have a
television set, you know, and we had to entertain ourselves somehow. I didnt know
what to expect of you and Mom as grandparents but I didnt have to wait long to find
out. Those babies adored you then just as they adore you now. When I see you with all your
grandchildren, I know youve given them the finest gift a grandparent can give.
Youve given them yourself.
Somewhere along the line, the generation gap evaporated. Age separates us now and
little else. We agree on most everything, perhaps because weve learned there
isnt much worth disagreeing about. However, I would like to mention that fly fishing
isnt all youve cracked it up to be, Dad. You can say what you want about wrist
action and stance and blah, blah, blah...
Ive been happily drifting for a lot of years, Dad, and I didnt see you
I suppose I saw us and our relationship as aging together, rather like a fine
wine. Numbers never seemed important. But the oddest thing happened last week. I was at a
stop sign and I watched as you turned the corner in your car. It didnt immediately
occur to me that it was you because the man driving looked so elderly and fragile behind
the wheel of that huge car. It was rather like a slap in the face delivered from out of
nowhere. Perhaps I saw your age for the first time that day. Or maybe I saw my own.
Fifty years ago this spring we planted kohlrabi together in a garden in Charles
I didnt know then that I would remember that day for the rest of my life.
This week, well plant kohlrabi together again, perhaps for the last time but I hope
not. I dont understand why planting kohlrabi with you is so important to me but it
is. And the funny thing about it is, well, I dont know quite how to tell you this,
Dad...I dont even like kohlrabi...but I like planting it with you.
I guess what Im trying to say, Dad, is what every son and daughter wants to
say to their Dad today. Honoring a Father on Fathers Day is about more than a Dad
who brings home a paycheck, shares a dinner table, and attends school functions,
graduations, and weddings. It isnt even so much about kohlrabi, 54 Chevrolets,
and fly fishing. Its more about unconditionally loving children who are snotty and
stubborn, who know everything and wont listen to anyone. Its about respect and
sharing and acceptance and tolerance and giving and taking. Its about loving someone
more than words can say, and its wishing that it never had to end.
I love you, Dad.