“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.”

This is my annual Father’s Day post. It brings back a rush of memories every time I read it. It makes me smile and long for my father. He was one of a kind in the best of all possible ways.

I have so many memories of growing up, of family trips and my dad trying to whack at us from the front seat and never succeeding, of playing whist in the kitchen, with the teams being my mom and me against my dad and brother, of Sunday rides, of going to the drive-in and the beach and of being loved by my dad. Memories of my dad are with me always, but today my memories are all of my dad, and my heart is filled to the brim with missing him. When I close my eyes, I see him so clearly.

On a warm day so he’d be sitting on the front steps with his coffee cup beside him while reading the paper. He’d have on a white t-shirt and maybe his blue shorts. He’d wave at the neighbors going by in their cars. They all knew him and would honk back. He loved being retired, and we were glad he had a few years of just enjoying life.

He was the funniest guy, mostly on purpose but lots of times by happenstance. We used to have Dad stories, all those times when we roared and he had no idea why. He used to laugh along with us and ask, “What did I say? What did I say?” We were usually laughing too hard to tell him. He was a good sport about it.

I know you’ve heard this before, but it is one of my favorite Dad stories. He, my mom and I were in Portugal. I was driving. My dad was beside me. On the road, we had passed many piggyback tandem trucks, all hauling several truck loads behind them. On the back of the last truck was always the sign Vehiculo Longo. We came out of a gas station behind one of those. My father nonchalantly noted, “That guy Longo owns a lot of trucks.” I was laughing so hard I could barely drive and my mother, in the back seat, was doubled over in laughter.

My father wasn’t at all handy around the house. Putting up outside lights once, he gave himself a shock which knocked him off his step-ladder. He once sawed himself out of a tree by sitting on the wrong end of the limb. The bookcase he built in the cellar had two shelves, one on the floor and the other too high to use. He said it was lack of wood. When painting the house once, the ladder started to slide, but he stayed on his rung anyway with brush in hand. The stroke of the paint on the house followed the path of his fall. Lots of times he set his shoe or pant leg on fire when he was barbecuing. He was a big believer in lots of charcoal lighter fluid.

My father loved games, mostly cards. We played cribbage all the time, and I loved making fun of his loses, especially if I skunked him. When he won, it was superb playing. When I won, it was luck. I remember so many nights of all of us, including aunts and uncles, crowding around the kitchen table playing cards, especially hi-lo jack. He loved to win and we loved lording it over him when he lost.

My father was a most successful businessman. He was hired to turn a company around and he did. He was personable and funny and remembered everyone’s names. Nobody turned him down.

My father always went out Sunday mornings for the paper and for donuts. He never remembered what kind of donut I like. His favorite was plain. He’d make Sunday breakfast when I visited: bacon, eggs and toast. I can still see him standing over the stove with a dish towel over his shoulders. He always put me in charge of the toast.

If I ever needed anything, I knew I could call my father. He was generous. When we went out to eat, he always wanted to pay and was indignant when we one upped him by setting it up ahead of time that one of us paid. One Christmas he gave us all $500.00, not as a gift but to buy gifts.

My father left us when he was far too young. It was sudden. He had a heart attack. I had spoken with him just the day before. It was pouring that day, and I told him how my dog Shauna was soaked. He loved that dog and told me to wipe his baby off. I still remember that whole conversation. I still miss my father every day.

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16 Comments on ““It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.””

  1. im6 Says:

    I heard this version of this song for the first time yesterday (if I’ve heard it before then, it didn’t register). I immediately thought it would be a great one to share today. I’ve always loved the original Judy Collins version, but this one really knocked me out. Hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do.

    • katry Says:

      I almost posted this one instead, but I went with tradition and Judy Collins. Thanks for adding it.

  2. Richard Says:

    This, as you say, is a day for remembrance of fathers we no longer have with us at the table. My father died at 59, far too young. He did, however, have the chance to see his granddaughter – my daughter – before his death. Had he lived, he woulda spoilt her so much …

    One of my favorite memories is of a night all of us were packed into the old ’47 Chevy and on our way home from the bakery where we’d just picked up two dozen fresh hot donuts. I was in a particularly gaseous way that night.

    The night was icily chill, the windows were rolled up, the heater was on ‘full,’ and I was lettin’ ‘em fly with abandon. As we crested the railroad tracks, I let another one fly, which was Dad’s breaking point. He stopped the car on top of the tracks, turned around in his seat, and issued the statement that would be forever linked to his memory: “That stops to be funny!” … yeah, you right, Dad. Miss you.

    Today’s Musical Accompaniment is by Nightnoise, a particularly excellent assemblage of players … the selection is titled ‘Snow On High Ground’ … and now, to begin …

    • Bob Says:

      How about you and I, the fathers who are still with us? 🙂

    • katry Says:

      My father also saw two of his grandchildren before he died. He was 65, also young.

      That’s a great story! I don’t think my father would have been so patient. He was not noted as a patient man.

      It’s funny the stories we remember best!

    • katry Says:

      This music is lovely. I haven’t ever heard of them before your posting.

  3. Bob Says:

    My father constantly avoided being a good father especially after the death of my mother when I was 13. He shipped my sister and I off to live with my aunt and uncle in New York so he could continue his career as a traveling salesman. We saw him about four weeks a year when he would come to New York on business. He always told me that he couldn’t find a job in town that provided as good an income as traveling. My aunt assumed he would remarry a after a couple of years but he never did. It was the beginning of the sexual revolution and my father was “spreading his wild oats” that he missed out doing in his youth. He did financially support us and both my sister and I went to college on his dollar but he didn’t want my sister living in his house so he could bring woman over to spend the night. He also never told my mother that she was dying from cancer because in his mind he was protecting her from worry. He was a child of the depression and considered financial support and protection showing love.

    The only time I can remember that my father showed open affection to me was at the births of my two kids. By then he was in his early 80s and probably realized he made mistakes and showed the affection to his grand children that he withheld with us. His generation considered showing affection by a man as a weakness. Men of his generation were considered ‘good’ husbands and fathers by being a good provider.

    Being a father requires more than just being a sperm donor and a checkbook. 🙂 It’s hard for me to not fall into my father’s mold with my own kids and I have to work on not becoming like my father. I hope after I’m gone they will have better memories of their father than I have of mine. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads on Coffee.

    • katry Says:

      I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how awful it must have been not to have both a mother and a father. My dad never changed a diaper or fed a baby, but he always loved us, and we knew it. He always greeted us with a hug and a kiss when we visited. He was generous. He was funny. He was a good father.

      My brother -in -law modeled the best of being a father for his two sons. One of them is now a father of two, and he does everything and spends a huge amount of time with his kids. He is just so funny with his 2 year old daughter. His ten year old son knows his dad will be at every game.

      It is difficult if you didn’t have a role model. I applaud your working so hard to be a good father to your kids!

      • Bob Says:

        Of course my perception is filtered through my memory. I’m always amazed how people change their perceptions of their friends, relatives and famous people after they die. The exceptions are Hitler, Lee Harvey Oswald and a few other notorious scoundrels. 🙂

        I once did an address search on people in the U.S. named Hitler. I only found one name in Cincinnati.

      • katry Says:

        I just a program about people named Hitler. One’s name was spelled Hittler. A couple were in Europe but there were a couple here as well.

        We all say the same about my father. Even my cousins weigh in on how funny he was and how much they miss him.

  4. olof1 Says:

    I love reading those stories about Your father 🙂

    I think we celebrate father’s day in October here but I’m not sure, I’ve never celebrated it.

    Have a great day!


    • katry Says:

      He was a funny guy!

      We always went to my parents’ house for both Mother’s and Father’s day.

      I hope you’re feeling better.

  5. Hedley Says:

    It’s Father’s Day in Detroit. I ambled around the lake with Big Rick, being passed twice by three young joggers. After 40 minutes of that nonsense I went domestic as Mrs MDH chugs back from Chicago, my daughter arrives around 3 and the Prince is in the house – his Dad has gone to work, so perhaps Pumpa Day

    In front of the Switzerland v France game I have been playing the Van Morrison “It’s too Late to Stop Now” at a level loud enough to entertain the neighbors – The Finsbury Park Rainbow version of Cyprus Avenue is some incendiary that it damn near blew up my music system

    Happy Fathers Day to all of you who bring love – It’s Too Late to Stop Now

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I’m glad the Prince is in the house. You haven’t mentioned him much of late.

      I suspect the neighbors are wearing ear plugs. I wish my neighbor had the same taste in music as you. When he is working in the yard, he plays country so loud I have to go into the house from the deck.

      Happy Father’s Day!

  6. J Says:

    Kat, you got me with “We played cribbage all the time, and I loved making fun of his loses, especially if I skunked him. When he won, it was superb playing. When I won, it was luck.” I think our fathers and ourselves aged out about the same…
    Steve Goodman had a great “My Old Man” and there’s a video of his pal John Prine singing it…

    • katry Says:

      That’s funny-that we have our fathers in common. He wouldn’t let me go until he’d won a game. I used to tease him and tell him I was throwing the game just for him.

      Steve Goodman and John Prine together-it doesn’t get better than that.

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