As Father’s Day approaches, and the three-year anniversary of my father’s death, I’m thinking about my dad more than usual. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I see his broad shoulders, muscular legs and thinning hair.


The physical resemblance aside,  I find myself thinking his thoughts, repeating some of his keen (and not always popular or kind) observations—about man- and womankind, politicians, kids, the weather, high prices, incompetence, opera, lousy drivers, funny-looking people, hot food that arrives cold ….


Well, you get my drift.


Pronouncements that used to seem outrageous and exaggerated are making sense. (More and more sense all the time.) Uh-oh.


Several years ago he arrived from Arizona for a visit. We’d barely removed his bags from the carousel when I saw him eyeing a huge woman. She was dressed in a Spandex  number with horizontal stripes. I knew what to expect. He looked at me, rolled his eyes and tsked. I smiled. Nothing wrong with his eyesight, I mused. Her hips could have supported the refectory table at Hearst Castle.


Dad shook his head and, in a raspy voice loud enough for Marlee Matlin to hear, said: “Don’t people ever look in the mirror. What could she have been thinking when she got dressed this morning?” I watched his face turn crimson. His breathing became labored. “It’s so disgusting, I could just spit on her. ” Always his best audience, I cracked up while leading him from the terminal.


Now, I’m not endorsing his view of obese women. (He was a bit more generous regarding men, but not much.) While I hate to admit it, I have had similar thoughts when I see someone 100 or more pounds overweight clutching a Big Mac in each fist, or licking a triple-scoop cone. Or ordering an extra-large Slurpee.


You may think my dad was an unkind person. Irreverent and curmudgeonly, yes; mean, no. He just called ‘em like he saw them. And let the devil take the hindmost.


Among the many things I recall on this annual fête to fathers—


He taught me to fish with bologna because he was too squeamish to bait a hook with anything else.


At a time when I lived on PB&J, he introduced me to kippered salmon which I love to this day.


He once tossed a clogged salt shaker onto the garage roof to drive home the message that it did not work.


He taught me important life lessons: “Take responsibility for your actions.” “Don’t say what you can’t take back.” And, my favorite: “Always use the right pan.”


He took me to the Mayflower Doughnut shop on Sunday morning, when I could barely see over the counter, and made me memorize the inscription on the wall: As you ramble on through life, brother/Whatever be your goal/Keep your eye upon the donut/And not upon the hole.


For those experiences, for passing on his love of food and of nature and appreciating the little things, and for making me laugh—usually at another’s expense—I am eternally grateful.


Tell your dad that you care. Now.


Happy Father’s Day!



8 responses to “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

  1. I know how you feel. Sadly, my father has been gone since 1977. He was a good man and I could still talk with him.

    Last week I was thinking a lot about father’s day and wrote a piece “My True Father” in honor of my heavenly Father.

  2. Your dad sounds like a wonderful person through and through. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate my dad.


  3. I laughed out loud three times because it was so true (and perhaps, because I am not really much different). I can see him throwing the salt shaker onto the Burnett Terrace garage roof, and remind us convincingly of the necessity of choosing the right pan. Thanks. Love, Artie Jr.

  4. I so enjoyed this. I wish I could have known him. Fortunately, our younger daughter Elizabeth, also a writer, wrote a piece on her Dad and gave it to him on Father’s Day a few years ago. We framed it, and a piece she gave to me on Mother’s Day. They mean the world to us!

  5. Chris Hildebrand

    Thanks for reminding me to remember all the good things about my Dad, now that we’re in such a different place. He too, insisted on the right pans and the right tools and that they always be put back in the right place. It has stayed with me for life . (makes people around me annoyed).

  6. I have such vivid memories of your Dad too! What fun we had traipsing around laughing, eating and just enjoying the day! He taught me to have a new appreciation of margarita’s too!

  7. Beth, loved this piece … as indeed I love all your bits like this. Smiled and teared up at the same time … ‘course, I cry at Hallmark card commercials! I would have liked your dad, fer shure. And I, too, look at — and listen to — myself and sooo see my own dad … good, bad, and all between. Thanks for this Father’s Day gift … to enjoy while I anticipate a word from our two offspring!

  8. This was great. My dad died in ’87. Yes, my family still reminisces from time to time about his idiosyncrasies. Thank you for including me on your list to read your blog.



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