We recently asked readers to tell us how they knew that they turned into their fathers. The responses were both humorous and melancholy. A woman wrote saying she would rather wear a tool belt than an apron — thanks to Dad. Another wrote to us about his father while sitting at his dad’s grave.
The following are some of our favorites. We think they will make you chuckle and recall special moments you spent with your dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop!
When I was a little girl, I’d jump onto the bathroom sink to look into the mirror, and hope that I would look more like Mom as I grew into a teen.
I thought Mom was beautiful and the better-looking of my parents, back then.
Years later, when Dad died, and I was getting ready to go to his funeral, I was looking in that same mirror that he used to look into every day to shave. While putting on my makeup, with tears streaming down my face, I was comforted and grateful to see that anytime I wanted to see my Dad, all I had to do was to go to that mirror.
Hand me the wrench
It wasn’t a single day or moment, but rather a myriad of times over the past 46 years that I realized I’m like my dad (Charles D. Bickett Jr.).
We share bullheadedness; high expectations; a quest for good manners; intolerance for lack of common sense; a love for practical jokes; craftiness and an extreme passion for tools.
As a child, my dad always won. When my son was born, I was almost giddy knowing it was finally my turn to win! Growing up, we were occasionally stabbed (gently) with a fork as a subtle reminder that elbows do not belong on the table. I found myself salivating as my son grew up, just waiting to teach the “elbows on the table lesson.”
We moved in with my parents when my son was 6. He thought he could escape the “fork prod” by sitting at the opposite end of the table from grandpa. Not!
I found a telescoping fork that spanned the length of the table (Ah-ha, in comes the craftiness and practical joking my dad so graciously ingrained in us).
I pray that I inspire my son in the manner my dad inspires me. He challenges me to be a better person. He always told me if I had eaten breakfast every morning I would have been in the top 10 of my class (I was 11).
He showed me how to repair things, instead of doing them for me (electrical, car and machine work).
Most of all, he loved me unconditionally and continues to do so. Now it is my turn to take care of him, to show him unconditional love and to remind him he needs to eat breakfast every morning.
I sure love you, Dad!
Sharon K. Fox
I grew up in a small Midwestern village. … We had a local electric company because our local doctor argued for [it based on] health reasons like running water and flush toilets, as well as yard lights for playing night baseball. I suppose he persuaded our local banker, his father-in-law, that it would also be a money maker. And of course it was.
However, we frequently suffered power outages, plus electricity was expensive for users. My father would become a roaring maniacal crusader policing the house whenever he found lights on with no one using them, lecturing us on wastefulness. Same with irons and electric curling irons. (Grandmother stuck her curling iron into a small kerosene lamp to get it warm, then curl the white fringe of hair that framed her face. She avoided confrontation.)
[With my own children] I turned into my father if I saw a light still on in the bedroom or garage after they had gone elsewhere.
I have three children, all with their own set of stories about when I became Dad. The one that stands out to me, however, involves our youngest daughter, Jennifer.
It was homecoming night. Jennifer had on one of those dresses that made her look like one of those plastic cake-top dolls found on wedding cakes. Her date’s mom was also present in our home to … snap photos.
Well, Jennifer (and her date) pose for the all-important photo. But one thing was very wrong. He had his arm around my daughter’s waist! Oh no, this is not going to work, I thought.
I told him abruptly, “Don’t touch my daughter!” He slammed to attention like a new recruit. I didn’t care if his mom was standing next to me or not, that’s the way it is. I then proceeded to follow them out to the car. My wife said, “Get back here, Joe.” I said, “That’s my precious cargo.”
His mom really didn’t have anything to say about the whole thing, probably because her husband [had] done the same thing.
Joe Cassiday Jr.
My quest as a child and most especially since I became a husband (20 years ago) and a father (19 years ago) was to turn into my father. I wake up every day hoping that I can be as good a father to my kids and as good a husband to my wife as my dad was to his.
As my oldest child graduates, I have come to the realization that this is one goal I will never reach, and I am OK with that. You see, in my eyes, my dad is perfect in every way. Someday, I hope I can try to turn into the grandpa that my dad is to his grandchildren — another impossible quest.
Thank you, Dad, for setting the bar so high that it can never be reached. You are truly the best.
My oldest son, Robbie, 26, was recently visiting from California. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. We are lucky because since he was a little boy, we have always been close. We stay in touch and are always supportive. It was so wonderful to see him!
We ate and talked for a long time and I just smiled at how adult he is now, what a kind heart and a good head he has. After he left, I was thinking about his visit as well as all my other great kids, and I realized that we had gone from being a great dad and a great kid to just being best of friends.
I was lucky enough to share that with my father for a long time, too. What a wonderful and special way to turn into my dad. I am a very lucky man.
My father … Paul Keiper passed away on my birthday, Sept. 28, 2005. That was my dad’s way of making sure I would remember (not that I needed help).
On May 26, 2013, my dad’s birthday, I was coming home from Florida after working on my brother’s condo [and] thinking of my dad like I do a lot. I thought, that was how he spent his vacations — always helping someone.
When I sat down to write his eulogy was the moment I realized I was just like my dad.
I wrote that it was scary turning into your father. Every boy thinks that when he turns into a man, he will be a better man than his dad. It takes a lot of work.
I heard someone once say the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. My dad did that with all of his heart. I failed at loving my three daughters’ mother the way my dad loved my mom. I try every day to be a good father like my dad.
I’m sitting at the cemetery writing this letter. I could go on and on about my dad. The good influence and the great times we had together. I just want to let young men who still have their fathers know they should cherish the moments. Good and bad. They will carry these memories with them the rest of their lives.
Never enough storage
My wife recently got a gift of a soup tureen set with four large matching bowls. As one would imagine, it was a rather large porcelain set and was somewhat heavy. Being that it was fragile and heavy, it was also packaged accordingly. When she unpacked it and had it nicely arranged on the dining room table she asked me to come look at it.
As I entered the dining room and saw everything on display, my first thought was, “Wow, what a nice box!”
The box was about a foot on each side, sturdy, and it closed securely at the top. I thought of all the stuff in my garage that I could store in that box. It was the perfect box. That’s when I realized that I had turned into my dad.
The joys of home
I turned into my dad, a very wise and conservative man, when I bought my first house. I was 60 years old and it was the first house I was able to own entirely by myself.
When as kids Dad would say things like “close the door … we’re not cooling off the whole outdoors” or “I’m not turning the air conditioner on until after June 15,” I thought he was just a very overly fussy worrywart. When he would say “watch the woodwork” or “don’t use the walls for a leaning post,” I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just live in our house without such heavy regulations.
After paying my own money to paint my own walls, paying my own utility bills and the many more experiences and expense that come with homeownership, I began to not only to understand why Dad said the things he said, but to feel very guilty for being such a thoughtless kid.
My 12-year-old nephew was over the other day. As he came down from the second floor, he pressed both hands on each wall of the staircase so he could jump stairs all the way down. I barked “Hey, use the handrail and keep your mitts off the walls; I can’t afford to repaint!”
I love you, Dad. I get it now. And about everything.
Big shoes to fill
I hope that I’ve inherited some of the good qualities of my father, who died of cancer in 1957. He was only 58.
He was quiet, but always spoke up when unfair comments were made about unions, FDR … or the Cleveland Indians.
He was a disciplinarian. I don’t remember being spanked but I do remember “that look,” which was the signal to cease whatever I was doing.
He was intelligent. He read a lot, listened to political discussions on the radio (no TV in the ’30s). If someone spoke harshly about unions, they best prepare for a stern rebuttal.
He was affectionate. I always knew that he cared for my two sisters and me, but being reserved in nature, he didn’t exhibit it. However, in 1943, when I came home on leave from the Air Force, we were sitting on the back porch of our home and suddenly he hugged me and said, “Your daddy loves you.”
After a good cry, we exchanged war stories. He was in World War I and I in World War II.
Others will have to tell you if I measure up to my father. They tell me I’m close. I hope so because there’s another Dan Hayes in Memphis, Tenn., who, I hope, will take up these qualities. He has two sons to follow in his example.
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.