Columnists Mark my words

Help us to do, Dad!

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Hepi Fodder’s Dey!

These words were uttered with joy and affection every third Sunday of June to my grandpa, my dad and other men in the neighborhood by Suseda. She was a memorable character, sort of a Croatian Yogi Berra, who often delightfully mangled the English language.

Only later did I learn that her name was not Suseda, but Mrs. Ozanich! “Suseda” means “neighbor” in Croatian, which makes sense since she lived next door to my maternal grandparents.

But I digress.

With Father’s Day this weekend, Suseda’s words came to mind since my family adopted them as our own as we greeted our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and godfathers on their special day.

I was blessed growing up to be surrounded by many exemplary, faith-filled men who taught me the lessons of hard work, a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of family and how to deal with adversity courageously. They also modeled joy and gratitude for simple things and a zest for life, expressed in song, dance and good food. They exhibited a willingness to serve — their neighbors, their country and, most of all, their parish.

Naturally, my dad Carl was my most powerful influence. One of my fondest memories was accompanying him every Sunday morning after he ushered at Mass to buy Italian bread at the Roma Bakery in Kansas City, Missouri. Rain, snow or shine, we drove there. Before heading home, however, we stopped first to deliver at least six loaves of bread to the nuns at my parish and the kids they cared for at St. John’s Orphanage/Home (now the Strawberry Hill Museum in Kansas City, Kansas).

Since I got the “honor” of climbing up all the steps to the convent to deliver the bag of bread — while my dad, ahem, waited in the car — I learned the lesson not only of generosity but of putting the needs of others first. And on the bakery drive, Dad taught me the importance of laughter and singing . . . and of simply spending time together.

Over the past week, my in-box has been flooded with suggestions for Father’s Day gifts. For the life of me, I can’t remember one gift that (I hope!) I gave my dad over the years.

The following story did, however, bring me comfort:

While a grown man was awaiting surgery in a hospital, he said to his father, “I sure hope I can be home for Father’s Day.”

The two recalled Father’s Days they’d shared and then the son said wistfully, “I still feel awful that when I was ten, I didn’t give you either a card or a gift.”

The father replied, “Son, I remember the Saturday before that Father’s Day. I saw you in a store, although you didn’t see me. I watched you pick up several cigars and stuff them into your pocket. I knew you didn’t have any money, and I suspected you were about to steal those cigars as a present for me. I felt extremely sad to think you would leave the store without paying for them. But almost as soon as you tucked those cigars in your pocket, you put them back in the box on the shelf.

“When you stayed out playing all the next day because you had no present to give me, you probably thought I was hurt. You were wrong. When you put those cigars back and decided not to break the law, you gave me the best Father’s Day present I ever received.” (Found in Medard Laz’s “Love Adds a Little Chocolate.”)

This Father’s Day, whether our dads are alive or deceased, maybe the best present we can give them is to live proudly the good example they’ve provided.

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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