(My) Father’s Day

So after gooshing all over the blog for Mother’s Day, I had a similar post planned for Father’s Day. But between working, training, and preparations for our US trip, I didn’t ever actually write the post, anywhere other than in my head.  My Dad, the gracious (and forgetful!) guy that he is may not have even noticed, but my oversight has been bothering me for the past month.

RWH's Dad, in his element! [Sussex County folks, you know this spot!]

RWH’s Dad, in his element! [Sussex County folks, you know this spot!]

But – BUT – today is his birthday.  And I can think of no better way to (try to) make up for that – and the fact that our gift to him won’t be arriving on time (sorry, Dad) – than by writing a Birthday/Father’s Day combo post right now.  Besides, you must all be tired of training updates anyway, no?

So: Dad.  His material ‘wants’ are incredibly simple: comfortable shoes, a nice big mug for his tea, and his iPad or a crossword puzzle.  Since his retirement a few years ago, he is perfectly happy living a slow-paced, uncomplicated life.  I will probably never live life at his pace – but when my world feels like it’s close to spinning out of control, I think of Dad.  I think of what’s most important, of concentrating on one task, and of slowing down.

My Dad taught me to care for other people with my actions: Not with grand gestures, but by doing small, every day things.  Dad fills his days caring for the house, yard, and “buggies” (cars); planning and preparing meals; playing guitar; and doing crosswords.  He works in an unhurried way and with singular focus.  If I call on Thursday morning, I know he’ll tell me that he’s cleaning the downstairs.  On Friday, the upstairs, so that things are spic-n-span for my Mom, for the weekend. He doesn’t think of these so-called chores as good or bad – they are just the things that he will do.  He doesn’t dislike doing them – in fact, he actually enjoys doing them, as a way to help, respect, and love my (not-retired) Mom.

He finds value and purpose in these daily tasks – as well he should.  When I start feel exasperated that the daily household tasks fall primarily to me in my marriage right now (this is a practical, not gender, issue – KMN can wield a toilet brush quite handily) – I think of my Dad.  His example reminds me that maintaining a house is a labor of love – and just one of many ways I can show my love for my husband and family.

Dad brought music into my world, early and often.  As far back as I can remember, there was always music playing in the house.  “Spinning 45s” was a legitimate Saturday afternoon activity of my youth – often accompanied by the gymnastics mat and impromptu performances by my sister and I.  Long before the days of digital music, we (mostly my Mom, really) bought him a 99 disc CD changer – probably the most thoroughly-used gift ever.  He loved filling all 99 slots, then setting it to “DJ Random”.  And random it was!  My Dad has a taste for music of all kinds, from classic rock to Weird Al to rap – as long as it has a good beat, it’s on his playlist.  My father is the reason that, when I was a kid, riding in a car with a friend’s family, I could sing virtually whatever came on the radio.  “You know this song?” was a common question of my childhood.  [Well, duh – of course I do.  That’s how I can sing along with it….]  He’s also probably the reason that I spent 16 years playing the clarinet, why I can clap on the 1/3 beats OR the 2/4 beats, and how I managed to find – and spin on – the beat well enough to pass my RPM Instructor Training.

He also knows how to bust a move on the dance floor.

He also knows how to bust a move on the dance floor.

My Dad, who taught middle-school math for his entire career, also shared his love for numbers with me.  Square One TV was pretty much the only show that my sister and I watched as children, and to this day, we can recite portions of Mathnet (and sing the Fantastic Number 9 song).  Our household delighted in palindromes and “stand-on-your-head-indromes”.  In fact, he was a data nerd before me, too. Dad was the one who kept a weeks-long tally of the songs that came up on “DJ Random”, to find out if the random setting on the 99 disc CD changer really was random.  Was this some crazy foreshadowing of the many yeast colonies I counted/tallied during my PhD…?

He's also a baseball fan.  The NY Yankees were "our" team, but we twisted his arm to attend a Dodgers game in LA last summer!

He’s also a baseball fan. The NY Yankees are his team of choice, but he didn’t turn down the chance to attend a Dodgers game in LA last summer!

My Mom was – and remains – the dynamic, go-get-em figure in our nuclear family.  For a large portion of my life, I was 100% my mother’s daughter – in fact, I was a more intense version of my mother.  But watching my father over the last 6 years has inspired me to grow into my own mixture of both of my parents: To practice being thoughtful and patient.  To remember that perceived slights are usually just that – perceived.  To think first and speak slowly (still working on this).  To sometimes let my actions speak, without any words at all.

And although he’s not the big, effusive cheerleader that my Mom can be, I know his love for and faith in me is unwavering.  He delights in the “Marimba” music that signals an incoming FaceTime call (always from me).  He asks about every race KMN & I run, and researches the details better than we do, sometimes.  He’ll talk paces and splits and times with me ad nauseum (he’s not a runner).  And if ever there was a doubt, this is the song he chose for our Father/Daughter dance:

Father Daughter Dance II

See the moon roll across the stars
See the seasons turn like a heart
Your father’s days are lost to you
This is your time here to do what you will do.

Your life is now, your life is now, your life is now
In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now.
-Your Life Is Now, John Mellencamp

Dad: Happy Birthday, and Happy Father's Day Love, Big Kid

Dear Dad, Happy Birthday, and Happy Father’s Day!
Love, Big Kid

Does your family (*ahem*Dad*ahem*) have its own code, like ours does (“buggy”, “shed”, “DJ Random”)??

Anyone else out there raised on Square One TV?  Mathnet?  Kate’s Bum Wheel? 1-1-2-3-5, Eureka!  Come on, the blog-o-sphere is a big place.  Anyone?

25 thoughts on “(My) Father’s Day

  1. Grace

    Aww, happy birthday to your dad! Both my dad and grandpa were always there patiently teaching us kids to do math (one of my favourite photos is me at three with a chalkboard, the twelve times table, and a stick figure sketch of Grandpa at the bottom) and putting up with whatever nonsense we came up with.

    And…the mind boggles at the randomness of this, but I DO REMEMBER SQUARE ONE TV. I was pretty wee when it aired so I don’t think i remember all that much but…Mathman, anyone?

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      “Mathman, your mission is to eat only multiples of…7. When you encounter a number, you will have until the count of 3 to make your decision. And beware of the evil Mr. Glitch. He will eat…if you are wrong.”

      [Or something like that.] 🙂

      Reply
      1. Grace

        Speaking of multiples of 7…ever play 7-Up? (“One, two, three, four, five, six, UP, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, four- oops.”) 🙂

        Reply
          1. Sarrilly

            hmm, does the other version of 7-Up usually involve 7 people up in the front of the room who pushes down the other kids’ thumbs while they close their eyes?

  2. Logan @ Mountains and Miles

    So sweet =) Happy birthday to your Dad!!! My mom is the patient one in our family (my dad goes a million miles a minute, I feel like) and when I get frustrated with things, I just stop and try to act like her. My boyfriend is in love with my mom…he always says “WWJD” (What would June do?).

    Sounds like your dad knows how to truly enjoy all the moments in life and appreciate them for what they are. I think that thinking of chores as labors of love is a brilliant idea…probably will make me less cranky about doing the dishes tonight =)

    Reply
  3. stridingmom

    Awww this is adorable! I was thinking how much I *heart* my dad the other day. He talked me down from catching a lizard that was terrorizing (aka crawling around) my house…but mostly appropriately laughed. The important part is that even in my 30’s, he was there for me 🙂

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      hahaha! What a terrific Dad, doing lizard-duty from afar! 🙂

      [PS Alternately, you could call me. Not sure about your lizards, but the ones we get in the house out here are totally harmless, and I find them completely adorable! KMN got off the elevator and caught me squatting on the landing a few evenings ago: “What are you DOING?” Me: “Look! I little camouflaged lizard! Isn’t he cute!!!!”

      Reply
      1. stridingmom

        I think they’re fine outside, but they freak me out in the house. Not sure why. Throw a black widow spider my way and I’m totally zen about getting it gone, but this lizard was not my thing!

        Reply
  4. Kristen L @ DYL

    Happy Birthday to your Dad! This is a beautiful post about him and the things he has taught you. I think my Dad helped me listen to all sorts of music growing up too. I also knew the words to every song on the radio. 🙂 Now, I’m not quite as good at it since I don’t listen to the radio as much! Horray for wonderful dad’s!

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Ha! Same is true for me…I get stuck in a rut of listening to my “good old reliable” music. Every so often, I appeal to my sister or Dad to suggest some new music selections. However, spin is helping expand my horizons again…I never thought of myself as an Usher kind of gal, but ‘Numb’ is my new go-to song…

      Reply
  5. misszippy1

    Awww…this was awesome and I’m sure the best birthday gift your dad could receive. I love that it’s the simple things that make him happy–he’s got it figured out, for sure.

    My dad instilled a love of swimming and the outdoors in me, among many things, which I truly appreciate.

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Three cheers for things that Dads teach us! My Dad was the swimming in our family, too, come to think of it. Although my Mom always supervised at the pool, he was the one who’d get in (if the water was warm enough!) and swim/teach/play with us!

      Reply
  6. Meagan

    Such a sweet post about your dad 🙂 I’m a daddy’s girl so I have a close relationship with my dad. We did everything together when I was a kid. I’d even get up at 5 on weekends because I knew he’d be home (lucky him, right?). My family doesn’t have its own language, but we have too many inside jokes.

    I’m sorry to say I have never seen any of those TV shows.

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      I’m not sure your Dad loved you getting up at 5, but that is a pretty adorable story. And now, he comes and helps you install windows! =)

      Regardless…we’re both lucky to have had such awesome Dads in our lives.

      [It’s OK. It’s all from the same show. And honestly…you might be just a tad young…]

      Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      The truth is that the show (which was a math-mock-variety show – so all the parts were from just one TV show) probably fell between when you would have watched them as a kid (you’re a bit older than I), and when your kids (who are younger than I) would have watched them. It’s OK. Grace & I will revel in nerd-heaven together. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Stephanie@nowiun.com

    This is such a touching post. I love my dad with all my heart, too.
    I’m the math nerd of the family. Nobody else. I wave my nerd/geek flag proudly. I’ll have to check out these fun little things you post about here. How could I not know? Just a couple of years ago I was introduced to Ma and Pa Kettle by a student!!
    Happy birthday to your dad!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I think you can probably Google some of the skits (Fantastic Number 9, Mathman) – not sure about Mathnet. But check YouTube for clips from Square One TV. If you’re a math nerd, you’ll love it. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Jean

    Awww, how cute! Are you for hire? I could use a touching “dad” post because I’m not sensitive enough to write a good one.

    I’m afraid I’ve never heard of those shows, but I bet I would have been all over them! But alas, I was more of a (spoiled) Nickelodeon kid, so there was a lot of Doug, Rugrats, etc.

    My family talks a lot about “miking” things (microwaving them), which friends have told me is insane, although I completely disagree (that’s an obvious abbreviation!). And “going to the tape store” instead of the movie store. I can’t think of any others.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      We “mik” (“mic”? “mike”?) things as well!!!!

      Hmm…not sure I could do a really genuine job, for-hire. I was always really bad a writing BS papers in college (there’s a reason I’m a scientist: Just the facts, ma’am!), and although I’m sure your Dad is great, I’d have to make up most of the stuff about him. Hmm…Maybe I could INTERVIEW you, then write the post? That might work! There might even be a market for this kind of thing…

      *scampers off to write new business plan*

      Reply

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