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Father's advice to son was 'write stuff'
What's that, chum? Father's Day kind of snuck
up on you again. Well, no need to panic. Heartfelt gifts
for Dad can be found just about anywhere from Walmart
to the corner Pump 'n' Pay. These last-second surprises
are sure to let Dad know exactly how much you care:
Tube socks: Dad'll feel like a million bucks in these buck-ninety-nine
($1.99) beauties each emblazoned with the three horizontal
"racing stripes" that say "he's the man."
Tie: Wait'll the boys at the office get a load of Dad in
this swell corporate-looking necktie fashioned from
durable, non-flame-retardant polyester.
Coffee mug: His eyes'll twinkle like they did on the day
you were born when he sees this one-of-a-kind "World's
Greatest Dad" mug.
Pack of smokes: This one's a no-brainer if Pop's a smoker.
Sure they're unhealthy; but hey, who cares what that bossy
Surgeon General says. Dad'll love how the intoxicating blend
of tar and nicotine makes him feel manly and super cool.
Slippers: Comfort is important to hard-working dads in
their leisure time and these lightweight Taiwanese "mock-asins"
are perfect for kicking back in the La-Z-Boy. (Newspaper
Can of mixed nuts: These generic morsels pack a party in
every can. Coupled with a Post-It note reading "I'm
nuts about Dad," this item helps you express the true
meaning of Father's Day.
Roll of duct tape: Perfect for household projects or Homeland
Security preparedness, this space-age super-product will
help Dad feel like the ultimate handy man.
Greeting card: Though it actually requires some thought,
devoted offspring often like to compose a personalized message
for Dad on his special day (example: "You're a champ,
Pops!"), while creative types may add a "heart"
symbol to underscore their affection.
Lighter: Give Dad the ability to make fire with just the
flick of his thumb. He'll be so grateful, he'll bust out
the T-bones and fire up the grill instant barbecue!
* * *
Of course, I am kidding just having a little fun
with the idea that dumb Father's Day gifts are one of those
oddball American traditions.
My dad died a few days before Christmas in 2005. And, boy,
did he love to laugh. He also, as parents do, possessed
profound insight into the lives of his children.
When I graduated from college, I knew that I loved to write
but had little idea about what type of career to pursue.
But my dad did. He told me to go see the woman ran who
our hometown York Weekly guiding me directly into
what has become a deeply fulfilling 30-year career in journalism.
Yet another "light-bulb moment" from a man who
used to bring home the bacon creating advertising campaigns
in a Pittsburgh skyscraper with the firm Ketchum, MacLeod
& Grove. Yes, my dad was an ad man like those guys on
Over the years, I have thanked him in print for nudging
me into the newspaper world a field with limitless
possibilities for creativity and personal discovery.
June 1999, in this newspaper, I roasted him with a rollicking
Father's Day salute under the headline (borrowed again today):
Father's advice to son was "write stuff." It began:
"I'm in the newspaper business today thanks to the
nurturing influence of a very wise gentleman. Nelson Mandela."
No secret that my ever-present impulse to blend humor and
humanity comes from my dad self-described "Depression
baby" turned dashing young Air Force pilot, advertising
exec, mid-life adventurer, small business co-creator
and from my mom.
I am also joking when I say that his words of wisdom included:
"Keep your eye on the ball to prevent ghastly facial
injuries" and "Wait at least 30 minutes after
eating lemon meringue pie before scuba diving for pirate
treasure in the York River."
June 1991, in this newspaper, I interviewed him on the
subject of fatherhood.
He was never big on those "when I was your age"
speeches. You know the ones: The old-timer tells how in
order to get to school each day he had to crawl 12 miles
on his belly through the jungles of Vietnam, swim through
a boiling tar pit teeming with leeches and piranhas, and
then pole vault over a barbed-wire electric fence to beat
the first-period bell at 4:45 a.m.
Asked about being a father by his first-born child, he
dialed the Humor Meter down to 3 and dropped a few pearls.
"The joys of fatherhood are so bountiful and overwhelming.
...; It's like the emergence of spring a thousand-fold,"
said Ernie Breneman, describing "a cycle of fulfillment
that comes first with your own growth and then with the
growth of others you brought into the world."
Upon his death, at a small service in his honor, I knew
he'd want to hear some wordplay. Here is a small snippet
of what he moved me to say:
He loved laughing with everyone, he was gentle and kind.
And there was something truly special about his beautiful
Contemplation. Rumination. Meditation. A million-and-50-watt
imagination. Still (and forever) feeding me inspiration.
* This column appeared in the Sunday, June 16, 2013, Portsmouth
(N.H.) Herald. See
Posted on June 16, 2013 1:01 PM
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