Saturday, June 20, 2020

A few words about Dad and myself, this Father’s Day

This is Dad & me on my 14th birthday (my dad was 38 here).  While I thought he looked his typical handsome self, for years I was embarrassed by this picture.

I was going through a chubby phase at the time, evidenced by the Sears 'Husky Jeans' I was wearing.  I can still remember seeing this photo shortly after it was taken and looking at my then-life of too much junk food & too much sitting in front of the tv and wondering if my dad was disappointed in me. 

I didn't share Dad’s love for country music or western books or football, I was too caught up in my own world of spaceships, monster magazines & comic books.  I always imagined he'd be happier if I had a dried snake or rock collection, or traded baseball cards or built model cars instead of model Frankensteins.  I had an older brother who was considered an “official genius" and excused from the rigors of American boyhood, and a younger brother who was busy re-living The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (complete with straw hat & fishing pole, darn it). 

Many times, I’d awkwardly try to have a conversation with Dad if we were alone at the kitchen table or in his pickup truck, and get silence or a raised eyebrow in return.

Dad in his Navy days; in the 1950s he served as a radar operator on the real USS Enterprise, a Navy battleship

Of course as the years went by, I began to understand his quiet moods and 'staring right through me' wasn't necessarily a disappointment in who I was, but more likely a man caught up in his own worries of making ends meet, feeding his large family & trying to keep my mom happy while battling a personal demon or two of his own.

I wasn't the only one back then with a lot on my plate, so to speak.

Dad & five of his six kids at Ryerson Park; Donda in the lower left, Shawn with the beachball, me, Steve hidden behind me & Duke behind Dad.  It was Dad’s 35th birthday

There is so much more I could say here about the man, other than I love and miss him.  I regret more than anything that we didn’t get to spend more time together.  I guess what's important to me this Father's Day is remembering that towards the end, he began expressing a real interest in my work & life.  His questions surprised me, and I was more than ready to share.    

As a kid I idolized him, tolerated him in my twenties, and finally saw him for who he was in my adulthood—a private, flawed (aren’t we all) but kindhearted man. 

Until his passing in February 2001 at the age of 63, he was a bigger part of my life then I ever let on; apparently he always will be. 
This is such a trivial thing but it’s something I'll always remember with much fondness.  On my 13th birthday, Mom & Dad took me to dinner at Ponderosa Steakhouse, than shopping for a present.  I was allowed to pick out anything up to a certain dollar amount. 

As I walked up & down the aisle in a toy & hobby shop, Dad picked up a model of Mr. Spock from Star Trek firing at alien lizards.  He said "Doug what about this one for your collection?"  Mom said "Don, that was one of Doug’s Christmas presents last year!”  

But he knew what was important to me, and that was enough.


Happy Father's Day, Dad


  1. Serving on a naval battleship must have been exciting times for your Dad. And raising a family of six puts him in the hero category already! The Batman headgear in the picture and your big smile says it all! I like to think our Dads (and Mothers) are still here and enjoying life in our DNA.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Florence, and I liked that sweet thought about our DNA... I sure do miss them both.

  2. Your Dad was a handsome man and he had his hands full with the large family. I think at teen age, few of us were thrilled with our pictures. I don't see chubby kid, I see a cute kid with a great smile. I am so glad that you two found much more of a bond as you grew older.
    By the way, that Spock and the lizards is really cool.

    1. Patti, thanks so much. You always have the nicest things to say. (And yes, I look at that photo now & my dad looks more handsome than ever but I didn't look so bad after all, haha.) And yeah that model of Spock WAS cool :)

  3. Touching tribute to your Dad. Glad you had some fond memories of him while growing up. Too bad he died at such a young age.

    1. Thank you Gigi, very kind of you to say. And yes, he was taken far too young. I can't believe it's been 20 years.

  4. Oh gosh! He died far too young. You were a cutie, Doug. Having 6 kids is a great responsibility and I can imagine the pressure that must have been for him. I’m so glad you have these beautiful memories of him to remember him by. I know you have inherited a lot of his kindness and sweetness.


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