Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed that I don’t write about my father a lot. I’ve realized this is completely unfair. I love my dad, and he’s a big part of who I am today. He’s the reason I know how to properly load a dishwasher, balance a checkbook, and pack a suitcase, unlike SOME people I know.
And if I’m going to write about the time my mom sent me to swimming lessons topless and forced me into vegetarianism with her awful ham-and-ricotta rollups, then it’s only fair that I train my pen (er, keyboard) on my dear old dad. In honor of Father’s Day Week, here are 3 stories that will give you a good idea of the kind of guy my dad is.
1. The absent-minded professor. My dad is a “man of letters,” as they say. Before he retired a few years back, he taught at a liberal arts college for more than 30 years. He can often be found reading or listening to classical music on high-tech electronic equipment. (He’s also a major technophile. Don’t get him started on his iPad2.)
He has a bunch of degrees including a PhD, and in high school my brother tried to convince my dad to write a doctor’s note excusing him from gym class. This led to a long discussion about the difference between a doctorate degree and a medical degree. My brother did not get out of gym class.
Because his head was constantly filled with intellectual things, my dad wasn’t great at remembering day-to-day details. For instance, that he was supposed to pick up his daughter after gymnastics. My class met at the college where he taught, so when he didn’t show up I wandered across campus to his office. I spotted his car just as he began driving off in it.
He didn’t seem to hear me yelling, so I took off my shoe and threw it at the car. As it bounced off the roof, he slowed down, then finally noticed the one-shoed girl running after him in the rearview mirror. “You forgot to pick me up!” I sobbed, once I had caught up to the car. “I had to chase you down the street! You didn’t even stop!”
“I’m sorry,” my dad said, looking bewildered. “Next time, throw the other shoe, too.”
2. A matter of degree. I was disillusioned to find upon graduating with honors from a top-notch liberal arts college (not the one where my dad taught) that the only positions I could get hired for were unpaid internships and jobs answering phones.
“I have a college degree from a good school! I got good grades! That’s not enough to get a decent job?!” I lamented.
“Of course not,” my dad replied. “That’s what graduate school’s for.”
3. Father of the bride. My parents were thrilled when I decided to marry my husband. Partly because my grad school thesis about strong, independent, single women made my dad fear I’d be a spinster forever. (See? I DID go to grad school.) And partly, I assume, because I was getting up there in age and they wanted grandkids.
On my wedding day, I surprised no one more than myself when *I* was the one to choke up during the vows. (I would have put $100 on my husband.) As I stood there overcome with emotion at making a lifelong commitment to my soulmate before God and my loved ones, my father leaned over the pew and stage-whispered: “Buck up!” What a softie, huh?
Later, at the reception, he would give a heartfelt toast that mentioned the time we were living in Germany when I was 5 and I taught him the German word for “bird poop.” Another beautiful father-daughter moment.
Happy Father’s Day, dad!
LAUGH O’ THE DAY: My son Miles was introducing my dad to Batman and his cast of characters, including the villain Dr. Doom. Grandpa remarked: “How come the bad guys always have PhD’s?”