According to Wikipedia, Father’s Day was first celebrated in June of 1908. It was established to honor Dads everywhere. But, in my family, my Dad was celebrated for a special reason. He was born on June 3, 1900. he lived for nearly 98 years and he died on January 3, 1998.
In his long life, there were some things he never did. He never took a ride in an airplane, he never crossed the ocean, he never went to college, and he never read many books. There were, however, some things he did very well. He worked hard and provided for his family. He took care of his property and paid his bills on time. He supported his church and his community. He saved his money and made it possible for his daughter, his son, and his wife to earn college degrees. My dad’s education stopped after the 8th grade. He read well, knew basic math and he was a champion speller. I have many memories of my mom asking him to spell a word she was unsure of.
Dad had an inventive mind and often made up words that were a regular part of his vocabulary. I was grown before I realized they weren’t real words. One of them was "briggle," as in "If you’re not careful, you’re going to briggle around and break your neck." And there were phrases that I still use. For example, he might describe someone struggling to make ends meet as "living on the little end of nothing, whittled down." My parents experienced the Great Depression and I remember well the "fear about money" that permeated the culture in which I grew up. But somehow, I always knew my Dad would take of us. This little poem, found in "Orange Cat" (page 21) is dedicated to him.
What can I say about my father, my daddy, my dad?
What was there about him
that defies or deserves description?
Was he tall, was he dark, was he handsome?
No, not by common definition.
He was what some would call "nice looking."
He was nice looking, even though
he had lost his hair at seventeen.
He was not so tall, and the color of his skin
came from long years spent working in the sun…
on the railroad, for the clay works, in the garden.
He could sing, when he wanted to.
And I remember how, long ago, he played the harmonica
in a homegrown variety show.
He was friendly and he liked to tell funny stories.
He took care of things and always made sure the tank was full whenever my mother used the car.
He didn’t always know what to do with babies who became children, who became teenagers, who became college students and got married
and had babies of their own.
But he loved them, no matter what.
He believed in them, no matter what.
When I think of unconditional love,
I remember my dad.