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Column: Thinking of dad makes me sad and glad

by Father Mark Goldasich

I miss my dad.

Although it’s been nearly 29 years since he died, I still miss my dad, Carl. Being an only child meant that our family was particularly tight-knit. That’s probably why I get somewhat melancholy around Father’s day each year.

The other day I came across a wonderful gem of an article in the June issue of Real Simple magazine. Written by Jancee Dunn, its title — “10 Things My Father Was Right About” — tells you all you need to know. (You can read the entire article online at: www.realsimple. com; type “10 Things” in the search box and you’ll be set.)

Dunn recalls that her father “would deliver themed, Mike Brady-style lectures, which I grudgingly tolerated and later dismissed. But as I’ve gotten older, a funny thing has come to pass: I’ve often found myself doing exactly what he told me to do.” Among her father’s lessons are:

• Hold hands while you hash it out. This was her father’s secret to a happy marriage. She writes: “If a nasty argument erupts, hold hands as you fight.” Dunn says you’ll feel goofy doing this . . . but it really works.

• For Pete’s sake, stop worrying. don’t be a talker; be a doer, a “fixer.”

• Carry a hankie. If a restroom’s hand dryer is on the blink, for example, you’re still OK.

Dunn’s article started me thinking about my dad and the life lessons he was right about. Here are a few “Carl-isms”:

• Practice your faith; be active in your parish. My dad served on the parish council, in the St. Vincent de Paul and Holy Name societies, and as an usher for many years. In addition to Sunday Mass (and daily Mass after he retired), if there was a prayer service at the parish — like October or May devotions, Forty Hours, or Stations of the Cross — you can bet that our family was there.

• Take care of others. Dad was the neighborhood handyman and chauffeur — happy to do minor repairs or paint or give someone a ride in his car, especially the elderly. Each Sunday, he also went to the Roma Bakery in Kansas City, Mo., and picked up Italian bread for our meal and also several additional loaves that he dropped off at the convent of the nuns who worked in my home parish. (I’m not sure how this started, but I do know that it was a regular Sunday ritual.)

• Provide for your family. My dad worked on the line as a metal finisher for over 30 years at GM. He was on the early shift, which started at 6 a.m. It was not unusual to catch him in the kitchen about four in the morning each work-day, eating M&Ms from a candy dish on the table and quietly whistling while he waited for his coffee to brew. I can’t remember him taking a sick day.

• Any time is a good time to nap, or, as he called it, “rest your eyes.” Probably due to that early morning schedule, my dad could fall asleep anywhere. We even have photo collages of him in various settings, fast asleep. Much to the dismay of my mom, this even happened once when some priests from the college seminary I attended were visiting Kansas City and relaxing on our front porch. Dad was offered the chaise lounge and, in about two minutes, was contentedly snoring away. The priests told my mom to let him be; his ability to doze off so quickly, they said, was the sign of a clear conscience!

• Be a gentle man. Dad was one of the most laid-back people I know. He didn’t let much faze him.

• Sing . . . and use silly, made-up words as your lyrics. I still catch myself singing some of dad’s “masterpieces” even today. They make me grin and are a great stress reliever.

• Laugh. dad would tell the same old, stale jokes over and over again . . . and laugh just as hard the 500th time as he did the first.

• Keep in touch. Dad wrote me letters almost weekly when I was away at school. Although just collections of tid-bits about what was happening around the neighborhood, they helped to keep me connected to home and to push the demons of homesickness away.

• Trust in God. My dad frequently drove around without a dime in his pocket. (This was in the days, too, before credit and debit cards.) When we’d badger him to be prepared and carry at least a dollar on him in case of an emergency, he’d just smile . . . and continue to do what he’d always done. And, you know, God did take care of him.

This Father’s day, make up your own list of “dad-isms.” Reflect on them, and see if what author Clarence Budington Kelland wrote isn’t also true of your dad: “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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