It’s time to be thinking about Father’s Day—even if all we do is think about it.
The woman who suggested Father’s Day in 1909 was named Sonora Smart Dodd. She was raised, along with her five siblings, by her father after her mother died in childbirth. The idea took a long time to catch on, and didn’t become a national holiday until Richard Nixon was in the White House. If you’re thinking it’s too bad that Ms. Dodd wasn’t around to see her dream fulfilled, you’d be wrong. She was just 90 years old. At age 92, she was honored for her idea.
I always have trouble finding a card that seems appropriate for Father’s Day. My dad’s eyesight isn’t great, but even if the cards were easier to read, there wouldn’t be much worth reading. Father’s Day cards are all about fishing or drinking or playing golf, and my dad isn’t big on any of those activities. But even if I found a card, the holiday is hard to celebrate.
This year, I’m seeing my dad right before Father’s Day.
“We’re going to miss Father’s Day!” I told him.
“That’s fine!” he said.
He didn’t sound disappointed at all. Missing Father’s Day meant we’d have less of a chance to wrestle the restaurant check away from him. He sounded like he hoped we might forget to get him a present as well. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking about him because I always am—whether I know it or not.
My dad’s advice, my dad’s way of solving problems, of taking care of business is so ingrained in me that I’m not sure I know where he leaves off and I begin. It doesn’t seem like my dad’s way of looking at the world, it just seems like the way the world should be looked at—if I take the time to be thoughtful and don’t rush out and do something stupid.
My dad would say that every plan needs “belt and suspenders.” What will I do if something falls through? What’s the next move?
The lesson in this way of thinking is that a person can do virtually anything they want to do as long as they take the time to think it through. My dad might argue mightily against something I wanted to do (and he has), but he’d never tell me not to do it. He’d just want to make sure I’d covered all the angles.
The result is that I’ve done things that, at first glance, might seem improbable or risky but, because I’d given them the “belt and suspenders” test before I started, were not nearly as precarious as they seemed. I can’t imagine a more valuable lesson to have learned young. I can’t imagine a better teacher than my dad.
My dad now lives in the house he planned for many years before his retirement and built almost entirely by himself with the help of his Uncle John. He always has a project in progress. He’s going to turn 90 next year, and he would tell you he has slowed down, and perhaps he has, but if you just met him, you’d never guess.
I will be celebrating Father’s Day this year—maybe early, maybe late, certainly over the telephone at the very least. I’ll try to tell my dad how important he has always been to me—how every major decision of my life has been guided by him, how every decision I ever make will continue to be. And how much I love him.
Happy Father’s Day.
Till next time,