A few years back, a book with an expletive in the title hit the bestseller list. If I cleaned it up for the sake of this column, it would be called “STUFF My Dad Says.” It was written by Justin Halpern, but I suppose any of us could put together our own version of a book like that.
My nephew Pat, for instance, remembers what his father (my brother-in-law) always said whenever one of the kids fell and skinned a knee or elbow. “Don’t cry!” he’d tell them. “You wouldn’t see me cry. I wouldn’t cry if my head was cut off.”
For Father’s Day, I asked around to friends and family: What words, funny or serious, do you most remember your father saying?
Yvonne Boothe, owner of Evans Flower Shop, was putting together a floral arrangement when she stopped to think about it. “My dad was always lecturing about money,” she said. “He’d tell us, ‘Money is a vehicle; it’ll take you where you need to go.’” She laughed and added, “My vehicle doesn’t usually take me too far.”
For the Beyerle girls — LaurieBeth, Jacquie, Brianna and Evelynn — who grew up in Saks, their dad, Brian, would throw historical dates and facts at them for no apparent reason. “February 14, 1912, Arizona became the 48th state,” he’d say, as an example, just out of the blue and then add: “Everyone knows that.”
The “king of useless information” they called him, but mom Michelle sees how it has rubbed off on her adult daughters. “They know more stuff about odd things than I ever will,” she said.
My brother’s daughter, Angela, remembers the more concrete type of fatherly wisdom. “Measure twice, cut once,” sort of stuff.
Micki Zielinski, former principal at Sacred Heart School, can still recall her father’s sage words: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
Another former Sacred Heart principal, Maureen Patty, grew up in Florida as one of seven children in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck. On Sundays, her mom would pack a picnic basket and they would all go to the beach. The children would play and play and play, stopping to eat a bite or two, then play some more. When the sun began to set, they would gather to sit and watch it descend into the horizon. And after each of those weekly sunsets, her father would say, “I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight.”
My friend Ann Morgan remembers the day her father dropped her off at college. “I was 18 years old and terrified,” she said. “I didn’t know a soul, but my father wrapped his arms around me and said, ‘Go find someone who is as lonesome and frightened as you are and make them feel better.’”
My own daughter, Lindsay, shared a list of memories she has of her dear old dad, my husband, Tim, whom she still calls for advice. “Computer-related mostly,” she said, and she seeks his opinion on home repairs. “He taught me from an early age which end of the hammer to use.”
Her fondest memories are of their daddy-daughter dinner dates when she was a little girl. “He would tell me to order whatever I wanted off the menu, even if it was cherry pancakes with whipped cream at Cracker Barrel,” she remembered. “And each time he always said, ‘Just don’t tell mom.’”
Donna Barton’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at email@example.com.