“What Did Your Father Say?”

“What Did Your Father Say?”  That was often my Mother’s reply when I asked for something questionable.  It was fairly astute of her because it was not uncommon to ask the other if the first did not give the “right” answer to my request.  Ah, but they were both smarter than me.  The question can be thought of in another light, though.  When presented with a difficult choice or a questionable query I often ask myself, “What would Dad have done?”  Or in other words “What Did Your Father Say?”

The question evokes the wisdom of the man.  I hope everyone’s Father dished out advice and wisdom that’s made their lives better.  Certainly even those Dads that weren’t the best communicators of good sense and knowledge had an influence on our lives that made us what we are today.  The late Tim Russert, longtime host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” wrote the book Wisdom of Our Fathers in 2006.  It is a collection of letters from over 60,000 sons and daughters who wrote to Tim about the influence their Fathers had on their lives.  These people sent him unsolicited stories about their own Fathers after reading Russert’s memoir Big Russ and Me about his relationship with his Father.  Amusing, touching, sad, joyous, and at times maddening, Wisdom is easy to read because each letter stands alone and tells a story like no other.  As similar and common as our lives can be, each and every one is different and unique.  That is underscored by the surprising number of very diverse vignettes played out over the pages.  If you like feel-good books, I recommend it.  And even if your Father was not the easiest man to love, this book will make you feel better about him and probably better about yourself while providing good reading entertainment.  Here is part of a review from Booklist that’ll give you a flavor of it:

“ . . . the contributors are decidedly ordinary Americans, many with recollections that highlight generational differences of a time when fathers were less than demonstrative. Many recall taciturn fathers who couldn’t bring themselves to tell their children they loved them but showed it in myriad ways. Many write of lessons learned about honor from fathers. A man recalls going to a New York Giants game with his father, who passed up an opportunity to sell extra tickets to scalpers and instead sold them–at cost–to another father with his son. Women recall how ties to their father set the tone for later relationships with men. One contributor recalls her father’s tolerance as she and her sisters practiced applying makeup on him, going so far as to paint his toenails. Once again, Russert celebrates the relationship between fathers and their children in this heartwarming book.”

It is Father’s Day this month.  There is no more appropriate time to honor them than right now.  Be sure to get in touch with yours and express your appreciation.  If viable do something jolly and fun with him.  He’ll likely be more grateful than he can possibly express.  Years ago I bought my Father a coffee cup with the following printed on it:

Dad, Answers to the questions you posed to me over the years.

  1. No, I didn’t know what the hell I was thinking.
  2. Yes, I thought we had a tree out back that money grew on.
  3. Yes, I thought you owned stock in the electric company.

My own Father has passed on and is at peace.  I miss him and his advice each and every day.  “Miss you, Pop!  Happy Father’s Day!


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