Sunday, June 20, 2010

To thine own self be true......

We didn't do a whole lot of celebrating on Father's Day. Dad didn't really want it that way. He was much more likely to just be glad for us to be together than for us to go get a card or a Father's Day gift. And, the ties and the other gifts cannot be remembered, for they were more self imposed obligatory gifts than ones that Dad expected or needed or really wanted.

I now understand what Dad meant. For when Mother's Day comes around, I want the presence of my children surrounding me with their love. I know as they have families, it might not always work out on the day, but the day really doesn't matter does it? Father's and Mother's Day can be any time.

My dad is no longer with us - he passed away 7 years ago in his sleep. What a blessing, I think, but I also think Dad hid his pains and symptoms that he knew one day would take his life away. Heart trouble, though not a diagnosis of death, was surely the culprit.

However, my dad left me many gifts, some I use, and some I treasure today.
  •  Dad had some of the corniest jokes - I heard them a million times it seems and as  a teenager I was always embarrassed by them when friends were around. But teenagers are like that.
  • We ALWAYS sat at the table to eat our meals. And... Walter Cronkite was in the background. Now some folks think - turn the tv off, but that is the way we talked about current events in our home. And Dad always had an opinion about them, but he also explained what was going on.
  • Yankee food. I didn't know it at the time, because our meals were our meals, but Boston Baked Beans, with the brown bread out of the can, and weiners were a weekly meal at our house. It wasn't until my late teens that I had southern cornbread (not Jiffy mix).  We also had creamed chipped beef on toast (I think that is a "Yankee meal"). 
  • Dad had a few quotes he would share with us... "to thine own self be true", "don't take any wooden nickels",  "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself (FDR), and others that I can't remember at the moment!
  • Dad was a depression child - born in 1929, hard times were a part of growing up. Money was something he thought of as "it comes, it goes" so he wasn't much of a saver. His phiiosophy was "I didn't have it growing up, I can't take it with me, so let's enjoy what we have now and worry about tomorrow when it comes."  If he had a windfall of money (like when he won a small amount with the lottery) - he took us all on a vacation. Could he have squirreled it away? Sure, but we would have never had a memory of that. The vacation, though, is a highlight that my children remember.
  • When it came to fashion, my father loved BRIGHT and FLASHY - no conservative outfits for him. He wanted to make a statement with a crazy tie, plaid pants with a striped shirt. Yep, that was my dad.
Best of all, he left me with a gift of thinking for myself, to always question, to be a life long learner, and to be compassionate to those less fortunate. He taught we an awareness to not always assume that things were not always what they seemed at face value, that there could be a story behind it that we don't know about by looking or seeing what we saw.

I hope that the gifts my father gave me are ones that I can live up to and pass on to my children, and to others. My gift to him, even today, is to be thankful to who he was and how he shaped me to be who I am today.


  1. Cathy, your dad sounds so wonderful. Sounds like he would fit in my family!! So many things you touched on here, are very familiar to ME! My grandparents were very present in my life and both born during the depression. They shared those same values with us growing up. To thy own self be true is one of my favorite quotes!!

  2. I remember your Dad very well! Especially the plaid pants and striped shirts!!

    Funny, my dad is like that too -- I think there is a particular flair and zest for life that just a few men have, and we were blessed to have a couple of them as dads!

    What I remember from our common childhood experience was that even though (looking back) there probably wasn't much money I always felt so VERY lucky and cared for -- I don't think money really entered into my mind very much.

    The food was plentiful, there were always too many clothes to fit in the drawers and bikes in the garage and props for the plays .... life was full.

    And our dads were very much present!

    Happy day to you and yours, Cathy!