Happy Father’s Day: Readers share their stories of becoming their dads
06/13/2014 11:00 AM
06/14/2014 7:22 PM
Dad, we haven’t forgotten about you.
A few weeks back we heard from readers who described how they were turning into their moms. All of those readers were women, because apparently it’s not manly for a guy to share how similar he is to his mother.
Well, now it’s almost Father’s Day, and we’re happy to report that several of the essays we got about “Becoming My Dad” were written by women.
Here, of the dozens we received from both men and women, are our favorites. Thanks to everyone who told us about their dads. Happy Father’s Day!
| Tim Engle, firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Nickson, Overland Park: Each and every Sunday morning during childhood, my four siblings and I would walk to the back left of the church and file into our preferred pew with my mom and dad leading the way. And from the opening to the closing hymns my father would belt out the melodies, loud enough for us kids to roll our eyes and smile at each other through our embarrassment.
After Mass, Dad was often complimented on his vocal contributions by the elderly women seated nearby.
A few Sundays ago, after ushering my four children into our preferred pew in the left rear of the church and shortly after the closing hymn, a blue-haired woman turned to tell me how much she appreciated my enthusiastic singing.
Oh, well. There are worse things.
Move it, Edna!
Bridget Mitchell, Lee’s Summit: I’m 18 years old, and as I’ve become more comfortable with my driving abilities, I’ve found myself yelling at other drivers.
Instead of the usual “Get out of my way!” I catch myself absentmindedly using some of my father’s gems. These include “C’mon, Bernice,” “Move it, Edna,” and my personal favorite, “Do it to it, Pruitt!”
Man in the mirror
Gene Jenkins, Lee’s Summit: I looked in the mirror the other day and saw a man with what once was a slightly receding hairline transformed into an undeniable chrome dome. It was then I realized that I am becoming my father!
When I made the decision, for the eighth straight year, that I could squeeze one more summer out of the old broken-down lawn mower because I was too cheap to buy a new one, I realized I am becoming my father.
When I hear a collective “Ughh” from my children as I tell the same joke they have heard a hundred times or witness their hysterical laughter to what I thought were my best dance moves, I realize I am becoming my father.
When my guilty pleasures include a good martini on Friday night after a long work week, or waking earlier than the rest of the family to enjoy the Sunday paper and coffee in peace on the back deck, I realize I am becoming my father.
When I find greater satisfaction in my children’s accomplishments than I ever did my own, I realize I am becoming my father.
I looked in the mirror the other day and saw a man blessed with a beautiful wife and family. A man who had dedicated his life to providing a stable, supportive home with so many good times and memories. A man who would make any sacrifice to ensure his children had the opportunity to be the best they could be. A man who knows how much he is loved. I realized I had become my father!
Make ’em laugh
Sharon S. Schmidt, Shawnee: I have been told on numerous occasions, “You are your father’s daughter.” I would have to say that’s because we looked so similar, with brown hair and big brown eyes, and also because I was always laughing, a trait I swear I inherited from my dad.
Both Dad and I loved to play golf, even if we weren’t very good. He never got angry when he hit a bad shot — he’d just let out this loud belly laugh that sent his playing partners into hysterics, because he could be heard all over the course! People would say, “Herb’s playing today.”
I loved that about my dad. I often have people ask me why I’m always so happy, and I just say, “It’s in my genes, I guess.”
My dad has been gone since 2000, but I can’t help but think of him every day, and I especially remember that belly laugh that brought me so much joy.
This old house
Sam Mason, Maryville, Mo.: I knew I’d become my father when I relocated to a small town and started restoring an old house.
In his retirement, my dad bought a horribly dilapidated antebellum home east of Independence and spent his last seven years restoring it to its original condition. One year ago I relocated my family from sunny Southwest Florida to Maryville, bought an old house and went to work.
Sometimes I think I’m actually “channeling” him. As I do the restoration I try to live up to his example. I don’t cut corners; I take my time, pay attention to the details and frequently ask myself, “How would Dad have done this?”
I never consider the job finished until I’m satisfied that it would pass his inspection. I’d want him to come in and say, “I couldn’t have done it any better myself. Well done, son. Well done.” I think he’d be proud.
Dad would approve
David Ward, Overland Park: My dad, Milo Ward, passed away in 1969, but his words of wisdom still endure:
“Close the door tight when you leave the house so the heat won’t escape.”
“Don’t use all of the hot water for your bath. Leave some for your sister and brothers.”
“Turn off the lights when you leave your room — you’re wasting electricity.”
To this day I find myself wandering the house, turning off lights, ceiling fans, PCs, radios and TVs in empty rooms. My family thinks I’m crazy, but I know that Dad is watching and smiling at me.
#Just like dad
Jonathan Q. Hyde, Prairie Village: Actually I am the dad, and proud of my son. And I guess vice versa. This is a social media post my son made on a Sunday morning, April 22, 2012. He is living in San Francisco after college.
This morning began with coffee and NASCAR on TV. Now I’m cheering for the NY Rangers, with a library book and a beer on the coffee table. I guess I’m officially one crossword puzzle short of becoming my father. #JonathanHyde
Mark Ashley, Independence: Actually, this is about my grandson becoming me.
For the past two years, two of our grandkids, Lauren and Collin, have visited us from Omaha during their summer break. We have taken them with us for a few days vacation to Branson and had a great time together.
Last year my grandson and I found ourselves wearing similar casual summer attire, right down to our toes: sandals with socks.
I would occasionally bear the brunt of jokes from my kids about wearing sandals with socks, but now this fashion statement is being carried on by my grandson Collin. So yeah, look who’s cool now!
John McLaughlin, Greenwood, Mo.: I knew I’d become my father when I started wanting my neighbors to stay on their side of the street.
A life in common
Don Wolf, Kansas City, Kan.: My dad, Joseph F. Wolf, passed away years ago, but he left a big impression on my life. He had a deep voice and loved to sing, and so do I. He loved to say hello to people he didn’t know. So do I.
Among other things we have in common:
Growing flowers, bushes etc. in his small yard on Strawberry Hill. When he ran out of room and wanted to plant more roses, he would dig up the plants he’d just put in to make more room.
I bought a one-acre lot so I would not run out of room, but I put in more than 300 plants, and now I have to cut down at least one tree a year to make room.
When I tried to speak Croatian, the language of my grandparents, Dad would say, “Boy, Don, you are butchering the Croatian language.” I say the same thing to my son, Steve.
Dad would never miss going to Mass on Sunday morning. I do the same, as do my five children.
Even though Dad left school after the seventh grade to take a job at the Armour meatpacking plant, he purchased a set of encyclopedias and read them cover to cover three times.
That is why I have a love of reading and an extensive library.
Dad had such an old camera that he taped it together to keep it working. I became a photographer in the Navy and was a successful photographer from 1955 to my retirement.
Dad loved making houses for wrens. I have four wren boxes in my backyard.
Every morning when they sing, they remind me of my dad.
Matt Cowan, Kansas City: When I was growing up, one of my mother’s most often-used expressions was, “You are just like your father.”
But my father always seemed too serious to me. For gifts, he preferred practical things over trifles. Car wax was better than a new cassette. When he wasn’t talking or smiling, he looked stern.
I regularly asked my mother if Dad was mad at me. “No, Matt, it’s just his face.”
I am married now and we’re expecting our first child. I prefer grocery store gift cards to expensive jeans. And I always have to explain to my students that my resting expression is the same as my father’s. If I am not smiling or talking, I look stern: “No, class, I am not upset with you. It’s just my face.”
The fashionista of Raymore
Jim Flanigan, Kansas City: I knew I’d become my father with one short question: “Is there one more damned light we can leave on in this house?”
I’d visibly cringe as the last word left my mouth.
My father is Doug Flanigan, a longtime resident of Raymore. He’s also known as Big Chief, Dad, Grampa Doug and OTM (short for “old-timing man,” stolen from a Cheech and Chong movie). He’s 77 years young, enjoys an adult beverage now and again, and firmly believes that any story worth telling is worth embellishing.
He wears his “formal” slippers to most places “because they are damn comfy.” He has been known to wear black socks and dress shoes with shorts.
We adore and worship him, at least when he’s dressed normally.
Don’t do it
Don Homrighausen, Overland Park: Yep! I realized I’ve become my dad when I started asking my grandchildren to “pull my finger”!
Travis Woolston, Lee’s Summit: Now that I have two sons just as my father did, I find myself beginning to understand all the things my dad did that I used to think were lame or only for old people.
For example, I now understand the importance of having insurance, especially when you have boys. (Dad, even after 15 years I’m still sorry about Mom’s car.)
I also understand now why it’s important to save money. (Sorry about that credit card I opened in college.) And I understand why you worked so hard your whole life and showed us what it meant to provide for your family and always be there to fix whatever was broken or watch all our games.
These are the things that make me proud to become my dad.
Lillian Kuras, Overland Park: I knew I was becoming my dad when I recently found myself considering ordering inexpensive polyester slacks from a magazine.
Truly a “Greatest Generation” guy, Dad was private, stoic, tidy, duty-bound and frugal in his own way and generous in others. Happiest when needed, he had a very sweet side, and when my brother and I would tease him about his high-water pants or his veterans picnic outfit that included white belt and white shoes, he bore the joking with good humor.
I remember coming home from the hospital the day he died of colon cancer and seeing his pants hanging on his bedroom door. The memory stays with me still as such a symbol of him and of my loss.
A return to childhood
Robert A. Wlodek, Leawood: I knew I’d become my dad when I retired two years ago and decided to try to re-create the 8-foot-by-8-foot train layout my father helped me build when I was 9 years old.
I have a home movie from 1957 in which my dad and I are working on the setup for my American Flyer toy trains that he had been giving me as Christmas gifts from 1950 through 1958. I’ve kept these trains, now antiques, in five boxes in six homes over the last 45 years.
Dad taught me how to use a soldering gun for wiring connections, as well as various power tools. I had some of these old tools boxed up with my trains and have since cleaned and fixed up the trains. I am planning to build a control panel to run the trains that will require use of all the old tools.
I spend at least an hour a day working on my trains. My dad, Miles Wlodek from Cicero, Ill., passed away in 1966 while I was away at college, so these memories are precious to me.
No Old Spice
Rob Field, Leawood: Time does tell. I called him “Pop.” Now my grandkids have named me “Pop.”
I take my shoes off the moment I come home. I find myself strolling through the house “blowing out the lights” as I was directed as a child and young adult. Watching television in the near darkness is now comfortable while enjoying Dad’s snack choices.
Country ham is not so salty anymore and I now enjoy oyster stew as well.
I now believe that five minutes is long enough on the phone.
The need to pay my bills on time is very necessary, and to remove any debt makes total sense now.
I know it is respectful to take good care of family antiques and would not consider letting my grandkids play bowling against the marble stands.
Being outdoors in the garden and mowing is most enjoyable, even while remembering now to put on a hat.
I hear myself repeating some of his most familiar sayings, and now laugh.
There is one difference that won’t change: I will not ever make Old Spice my aftershave of choice.
Good night! After all, it is approaching 10 p.m.
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