Thanks for a Great Fathers’ Day at The Recovering Politician

I hope you enjoyed today’s posts as much as I did.  Our RP Nation is filled with some outstanding writers with some beautiful stories.

We ended a few minutes ago on an important note.  As Phil Osborne suggests, don’t forget to tell your father (and all of your loved ones) how much you love them.  If you are lucky enough to have Dad still in your life, make sure to tell him today. 

Say it now.

Phil Osborne: Say It Now

Say it now. You may not have the chance to say it tomorrow.

This is the second Father’s Day I’ll spend without mine. He passed away in March 2010. He would have been 79 last month.

We had an interesting, and sometimes tumultuous relationship. He was an absentee dad because he had to be. That’s where his jobs were. Long-haul trucker, construction worker, shift worker at factories, military service. You get the picture.

But when he was home, I have fond memories of hours at Fultz’s pay lake in Carter County where we’d fish for bluegill and mud cats.

Or the special Christmas gifts that my sister and I would make like cutting little ovals into a carton of cigarettes to insert our latest class photos. Low budget production.

But we were never really close. And now we’ll never have the chance to be.

He grew up in Carter County, as did my mother. He dropped out of school at 16 and lied about his age to get into the Army. He was a decorated veteran of the Korean War and was stationed in Alabama in 1953 when I was born. When he was discharged, he came back to Carter County and held a series of jobs before we moved to Ohio when I was four.

There, we lived in what is euphemistically referred to now as federally subsidized housing. We called them the projects. That’s when the call of the road came and he started trucking. So between truck driving and some factory work my mother took on, we made it through three years in Warren, Ohio.

Then, back to Carter County and the little community of Globe. More trucking, but then he landed a construction job in Winchester. Sometimes he would come home on weekends; sometimes we would visit him staying with my aunt and uncle in the Clark County version of the projects at Stephenson Heights. But income was more predictable.

We moved to Winchester when I was in fourth grade and moved out of the projects and into our own modest little house the next year. I graduated from high school in that house.

When he secured a good paying and steady job at Rockwell, we were set. No more worries about absentee fatherhood, which put us in the house together to argue, fuss, fight and fume. All fathers and sons have their issues. We had enough for two families on occasion.

I’m not writing this as a “woe is me” bit of narrative. I got some lucky breaks in my life that my father never did and I’m thankful for it. And I’m thankful that life’s lessons have made me a better person because of who we were and what we did while I was under his roof.

I loved my father. Problem is, I never told him. And I know he loved me, he just didn’t say it.

Nearly every conversation with my wife, mother or any of our four children ends with “Love you.”

That never happened with my dad. The only time I told him was when I kissed him on the head at Clark Regional Medical Center and said goodbye for the last time after he had passed away.

Say it now. You may not have the chance to say it tomorrow.

William Amon “Doodle” Osborne. I love you.

Zack Adams: To a Wonderful Father

My dad was born Clyde Shelly Adams to Clyde and Nancy Adams on December 12, 1956. He was raised an only child and an Army brat. My dad met my mom when she was Denise Ferguson and they married in 1985 (26 years later and they are still going strong). Two years later, I became their first child.

My dad has been in my life from the beginning until now. Everything I wrote about his father in the Memorial Day tribute can also be applied to him (they are practically the same person). He is loving, loyal, smart, and hilarious.

The most important thing I can say I have learned from my dad is something I don’t think I learned at all, at least not consciously. That thing is the ability to talk and communicate with people. I would say I inherited this talent and grew into it. Being raised by my dad simply enhanced it.

I love talking to interesting people and examining them, something I observed my father do from a young age. I happen to regard this as one of the most important things a father can impart to his son. What else could be better than teaching your son how to communicate properly and respectfully? I believe this one of the biggest factors for being successful in life.

As this is The Recovering Politician I would be remiss if I did not say that as I’ve grown I’ve realized that I disagree with my dad on most, if not all, political topics. However, that in no way stops me from loving him and remembering all he has done for me.

Mike Ghouse: A Tribute to my Pluralist Father

Life is all about expressions and completing transactions. Every emotion, thought, action or a change creates a new debt or a favor that needs to re-balanced. Obviously we cannot reciprocate the favors in full, but we have been able to do that with a thank you in the most simplistic way or ratcheting up with complications.   

One of the incomplete transactions of my life was not being able to do the things I wanted to do for my father. As a kid I would step in and take over the work from him so he can take rest, an Indian tradition that I cherish.  When I moved to Saudi Arabia on an assignment, I sent my first check to him with which he started paying off my loan. With the next check I asked him to buy clothes for the family and wanted him to replace his old black Jacket he wore forever with a new one. He said no, first things first. In the first week of December 1977 my check paid off all my loans, and with the next check I asked him to oblige me. Man, I am feeling a deluge of emotions as I am writing this, darn, my eyes are welled up.

He did not get the check, he just had to live his words, “Until my last breath, I will be earning my living and take care of my family.” Darn it, he did it.  I was angry for my helplessness, and was happy that the man kept his word. But that created a huge gap in my life and I continue to recover my balance by serving the senior friends in whatever little way I can.  You can always count on me to drop everything off to attend to a senior’s request.

Talking about keeping one’s word; in the late sixties he decided to go back to till his father’s land abandoned some forty years ago, when the whole family died in the influenza that had killed millions around the world. He sold a thriving property we had and sunk the money in the farm and I was on it for six months. He gave his word to someone to sell for quick cash and told us about it in the evening, three of his friends descended at our house with three times the money, my father refused; he said no, I have given my word to that man. My mother and I were angry; he said he would rather lose the money than his word.  I did not value it then, but when I left home, it all meant so much to me and yes, I have lost quite a lot for that, then I realized no one will take the wealth with them either.

My father is my hero and opened the doors of wisdom to us.  Pluralism indeed runs in my family. He taught one of the biggest lessons of my life in social cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect in my talks, acts and write ups.

During the communal riots in Jabalpur (India) in the early the sixties, both Muslims and Hindus were killed in the mayhem. I wish every father in India, America and elsewhere teaches this lesson to his kids. He was crystal clear on his take; He told us the “individuals” are responsible for the bloodshed and not the religions; he would emphasize that you cannot blame the intangible religion and expect justice, we must blame the individuals who caused it and punish them accordingly for disturbing the peace and thus bring a resolution to the conflict by serving justice. He said you cannot annihilate, kill, hang or beat the religion, then why bark at it?  

My father was a Mayor of the Town of Yelahanka (The town gave birth to Bangalore in 1537) and served the council for many years. He was also the president of the Islamic Association of the town. We grew up with no barriers between us and another soul. He broke all traditions of the society; during the early sixties India was pretty much like the US in the way she treated her “Harijan – God’s chosen people as Mahatma Gandhi termed the “untouchables”. The African Americans endured such treatment here. My father would invite them in our home and my mother would serve tea and food in the same glasses and plates that we drank and ate. Many people opposed him with unsavory words, but my father stood his ground. I see that streak in me playing it out all the times.

He treated all of us kids with dignity and I am pleased I got to be disciplined at least once. I guess I replicated that with my children to the point my kids would actually say, Dad, you should have disciplined us. I did not see the need for it. I am fine and they are fine too.

Read the rest of…
Mike Ghouse: A Tribute to my Pluralist Father

Paul Whelan: A Tribute to Boz

My Dad, whose nickname was “Boz” could be a character. 

As a child, I really did not think it unusual to have a father with the name –Boz which was actually the shortened nickname given to him by his brother Allen.  Allen had called him “Bozo” which Daddy liked better than his given name of Elza.
During the summer’s Daddy like to take us “fishing” on a creek which was branched off the Licking River in Harrison County.  These fishing trips focused more on purchasing junk food like sardines, and when rather than waiting to catch something, he would often jump into the water and splash around.  All thoughts of fishing ended due to Dad and all seven of us kids scaring off the fish with our splashing and swimming.
Daddy liked candy and sweets and on occasions, us kids would raid his stash and finish it up.   While he would be upset about us getting into his candy and ice cream  bars, his greatest words of advice to us was — “If you are going to  eat all the candy, throw away the wrapper!”
Dad always liked to see how far he could go on a tank of gas.   On more that one occasion, he ran out of gas.

On a return trip on the Western KY Parkway (soon after it was built) from  Pennyrile State Park back to our home in Lexington, he ran out of gas somewhere west of Elizabethtown.
I remember walking with him climbing a couple of fences until we got to a farm house where he was able to buy a can of gas which would allow us to get to E-town for a fill-up.   
After Dad’s funeral one of the limos broke down on the way to the cemetery reminding us of the times when Dad ran out of gas.
At left is a photo of my dad, Boz Whalen taken in Venezuela.  After serving in the USAF in the early 1950s he worked for British American Tobacco Co. teaching immigrants to Venezuela how to grow tobacco.  This is prior to marrying Mom and finishing his last year at UK .

Diane Robbins: A Poem for My Father

I am my father’s daughter
And proud of  it.

You taught me to be humble for most things,
To be proud  of a few things
And to be grateful for all things.

You gave me life. 
You gave me strength.
You gave me roots.
You gave me wings so I could  fly on my own.
And you were always there to catch me when I fell.

You  kissed my tears away and fixed me up when I scraped my knee riding my bike.
And then you fixed the bike, too.
You told me stories and taught me  how to laugh.
You showed me the world through your eyes
And taught me to  believe in magic.

Thank you for all you taught me,
All you gave  me,
All you did for me,
All you fixed for me,
All you showed to  me;
And most of all, for making me who I am
And for loving me through it  all.

Always your baby girl
With more love than you can ever  imagine.

Mary Potter: Finding my Father

Father’s Day celebrates the men who did their part. Not just biological dads, but those men who stuck around to see the job done proper.

For those of us whose fathers didn’t stick around, it is a day to wonder what our lives would have been like had they not gone away-gone away through death or divorce or an unquenchable wanderlust or just because they had no intention of being a father and excused themselves from the job.

My father went away six weeks after I was born. I only know him through family stories and my mother’s recollections. The older she got, the more those recollections took on the shape of a paperback romance. I know the bare facts. He was from Kentucky. She was from New Jersey. She knew he was dying when they met.

They married anyway. He died less than a year later, the day after her thirty first birthday. I can see her in my mind’s eye, with a baby in her arms, accepting his flag from the soldiers who came to conduct his funeral.

My dad was not one of the men who died on the Normandy Beach or slogging up the Anzio Road. He served on a ship in the Pacific Theatre. He came home, wounded so badly that he spent the rest of his short life in and out of veteran’s hospitals. He met my mother in one of those hospitals. They married when he was 25. He died at 26.

My dad wasn’t around for my first communion or my first words or any of my graduation ceremonies. He was there for me in pictures – a lanky man with a shock of black curly hair falling into his eyes dressed in sailor whites, with hands tucked in his navy pea jacket. He was there for me in stories told by his sister, my aunt, of the crazy things he did as a teenager, the cars he loved, the girls he dated, the things he enjoyed before he left Coalport Holler forever to go to war.

He bought my mom a house through the GI bill and sent me to college with his veteran education benefits. He wasn’t there to do it himself. But I like to think he approved.

My husband, Ivan, and I went to my father’s home in Knox County last weekend. We rode around Barbourville and went out to Dr. Thomas Walker State Park.

Then we drove through the town cemetery. I haven’t been there since I was a child. My mother loathed visiting his grave. She always said he wasn’t in that grave; it was just the place to put his body. So, my memories date from when my aunt would come from Detroit and take me with her to “decorate the grave”.

We walked the sections until we came upon his head and foot stones. They were as neat and beautiful as I remember them.

Father’s Day 2009 is special to me this year. I found my dad.

Happy Father’s Day and blessings to those fathers who could and did stick around.

David Snyder: To a Tough and Gentle Father

Four generations of Snyder men; the author at far left, his father at far right

My Dad, now there’s a tough one.  Not that it’s tough to talk about my Dad, but rather the man himself.  The kind of Dad who could give you that look when you were a kid, the one that needed no words to get across what he meant – the same look I think I now give my kids, intentionally or unaware.  I have found as I’ve gotten older that, although my appearance has clearly swayed toward my Mom’s side, my personality and character have come from my Dad.  I notice more and more as each year passes by.  I even followed in his footsteps professionally, although my career has changed, while his has remained the same. 

My Dad was born in small town Ohio to a lifelong worker at Anchor Hocking in Lancaster.  And if I think my Dad is tough – he’s got nothing on my Grandfather, who was so tough, he lived until he was 101 years old.  It seems that the women in our lives have the tendency to soften their men.  My Grandmother was a wonderful woman and she did the best she could.  My Mom, herself a wonderful woman, has clearly had an impact on my Dad (one for which her children are grateful), and I most definitely see that my wife has done the same for me.  That toughness, the stubbornness, the steely exterior seems to ease with each generation.  Our wives may disagree, but I think it is true. 

My Dad found his way to Ohio State, where he met my Mom, and then to law school at the University of Cincinnati.  Graduated in 1964 and has been practicing law ever since.  Still today, he makes his way to the office a few times a week, although he’d rather be spending time with his grandchildren, which he does whenever he can.  His legal career has been marked by two stages.  First, as a founding member of a small law firm for 20 years and for the past 26 years, with a successful solo practice, working as an old school General Practitioner (and there aren’t many of them left around).  You name it, if it’s not Criminal or Divorce, and he can help you out.  His law practice is marked by his integrity, his honesty, his hard work and his willingness to do what needs to get done (never doing it half-assed, as we heard growing up as kids in my family).  I never heard anyone ever talk badly or critically about my Dad’s law practice. He just did good solid work, the kind his clients needed.  

I never realized until my adult life, how hard my Dad worked.  When you grow up not wanting for anything, you don’t always see the hard work, but looking at where my parents are today, I know what it must have took to get there.  That has always amazed me, because he went about his job without much fanfare.  Just a humble practice in support of his family.  And it wasn’t just work – my Dad spent many hours, weeks, doing service outside of his career.   Just to mention a few, years and years on our Temple Board of Trustees, including a term as President of the congregation, President of the Cincinnati Reform Jewish High School – a joint project by the 4 Reform Jewish congregations in Cincinnati – one of the first of its kind in the country back when it started in the early 1980’s, and free legal services for local law enforcement.  And through all of this, he set a model for how to blend career, family and service together, one that I try to emulate as best I can. 

Now I said my Dad was tough, but that’s just on the outside – really deep down he has compassion and kindness and this incredible desire to provide for his family.  Whenever there was a need growing up or even as adults, Dad is there to help (and my brothers would most certainly agree).  And having grandchildren has really softened him up.  There is nothing he would rather do today than spend time with his 6 grandchildren.  If they want it, he provides.  And I mean it – from riding roller coasters to various sports venues, to simple babysitting – he does it all.  Really no different than when I was a kid growing up, but now I can see it through a parent’s eyes and truly appreciate it.     

Of course, no praise of my Dad can be made without mention of my Mom.  As I mentioned, the women in the lives of Snyder men must have some magical power to deal with the tough, stubborn side that we all exhibit.  Not an easy task, one at which my Mom has excelled.  She definitely has earned some of the credit for what is written above. 

So on this Father’s day, I can offer this simple tribute, to a man who has never sought the limelight, never asked for praise, and never required anything in return.  We can all use a little of that humility, that example of a how to do a hard day’s work, that deep sense of pride in family.  My Dad, now there’s a tough one – but I know otherwise. 

To my Dad, Richard Snyder – go out to the links and shoot your age! Happy Father’s Day – I love you.

Carol Andrews: My Political Mentor

“Take care of Number One. Nobody’s going to do it for you.”

“You need to know a lot of people. Make friends everywhere you go.”

Sam and Carol Andrews (with Trixie lurking at bottom)

These were prime pieces of advice from Dad. I heard them most every day until he died. On the first, I haven’t always done so well. On the second, I’ve been fortunate, mostly because of a career in politics.

Dad was political. He was bipartisan. He taught my three brothers and me to be bipartisan, though we haven’t stayed that way. They went fairly right; I veered left.

My first political campaign was working the polls on Election Day for one of Dad’s candidates, a Democrat. I handed out matchbooks with the candidate’s name on it. I was very young. The candidate was the beloved incumbent state senator from Lebanon, Tennessee, Bill Baird. He won.

A farmer and a World War II veteran who was passionate about politics – not for their blood sport but for their good – Dad believed that everybody should damned well exercise the privilege of participating in the process, whether their views were left, right, center, up or down, or they should just get the hell out of the way. He was right.

Twenty-six years have passed since Dad left this Earth. He wouldn’t get it that fewer people exercise this privilege or why people wouldn’t want to be political. 

I don’t get it either, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Anonymous: A Tribute to My Father

When I sat down to write this, I Intended to go into some detail about my father and me, but after some effort, I realized how difficult it is to sum up a 53 year relationship with one’s father in the amount of time we have here today, so I will keep it brief.

Being his son was not easy. He was not a hugger or a warm and fuzzy guy, and by the time I came along, he had little patience for kids. He made a sincere effort at times, but you could tell that he was not comfortable in the role of dad.

And to add to the strain, he held his children up to the same impossible standards he held himself up to. With such lofty standards, failure and disappointment were inevitable for him and for us.  So our relationship during my childhood and young adulthood was like many a father and son – Polite but strained on the surface, with an undercurrent of hurt, resentment and disappointment on both sides. 

At the same time, he provided a wonderful home for us and many priceless childhood experiences and memories, and for these I will always be grateful.

Again, like many sons, I disagreed with many of the decisions he made in regards to family matters, but as I grew into adulthood and had to make tough decisions of my own, I gained a greater appreciation for the difficulties he faced, and was able to let go of and forgive many, and finally all of the resentments I held for his choices and shortcomings as a father.  More importantly, I came to recognize my own shortcomings and challenges, which made me a more compassionate person.

At the same time, he was mellowing with age and was able to put aside his judgments about my choices and shortcomings, so we were able to find some common ground and forge a closer relationship as we grew older. In the end, I was able to communicate everything I needed to communicate with him, and felt complete when I heard the news of his death.

Now about the man himself – He was the full manifestation of a human being it all its extremes – from the highest talents and ideals to the most common failings, and everything in between. He was all of us, only bigger than life and with the courage of his convictions whether he was in the right or wrong, which made him a difficult person at times, but always a fascinating case study in humanity.

He went for it in life, and you always want to pull for someone like that and celebrate his successes, but it hurts all the more when they come up short – both for the person and for those who love him.

My dad was a lover – While he had difficulty expressing his love for others, his love came pouring out in other ways – In his striving for integrity and high ethical standards; In his passion for his work and a job done well; In his devotion to the institutions that he loved.  Ironically, I feel that his love maybe showed itself most vividly in his drinking – He desperately wanted to feel things and connect with people, but it was just too difficult for him when he was sober, so he drank … and drank … and drank.

In the end I know 1 thing about my dad – He loved me the best way he knew how and he did the best he could by me in this life.

I love you dad – Anchors Aweigh and Bon Voyage.

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