It seems awfully gratuitous to keep writing about myself and my personal experiences, but I think we’ve established that people prefer my take on family vacations over my opinions on certain country music stars.
As Father’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about what to get my dad. I pride myself in being a good gift-giver, a trait he passed on to me. When I became obsessed with Watergate after watching “All the President’s Men” for the first time, he went on eBay and bought me a framed Nixon family portrait. It confused some who saw it hanging in the foyer of my home, and that made it even better.
Gifts should be funny or meaningful or just something the person would really like. My dad likes coffee, playing guitar, University of Texas football, photography, nachos and guns. He’s pretty easy to please, but let’s face it, by the time you’re in your late 60s, you have the things you need. While a Starbuck’s gift card is nice, it’s probably not going to change your life, bring a tear to your eye or make you laugh out loud.
My dad was a good dad who spent time with his daughters, a fact I did not appreciate when I was in high school but something I’ve grown to cherish. He tossed the softball with me in the backyard. When we were toddlers he would scoop us up and yell “Shampoooooo Daddy!” and wash our hair in the kitchen sink. He taught me how to drive (some would say that was an unsuccessful venture) and how to keep score at a baseball game.
I was a pretty difficult teenager. I was rude to everyone, shut my door as soon as I got home from school and talked on the phone to my friends about how oppressed I was because my parents just did not understand me. I also apparently had bad table manners, so my family tried to teach me a lesson. One night we sat down at the dinner table for what my sister and I referred to as “enforced family time.” Cue the eye roll. I can only imagine how awful we would have been if cell phones existed back then.
My mother had fixed a lovely spaghetti dinner and each member of my family proceeded to use their hands to scoop noodles onto their plates, then – gasp! – they started grabbing at the meat sauce with their hands.
They put their elbows on the table and didn’t use napkins and ate with their hands like cavemen. It worked. Dad: 1, April: 0.
He was always trying to teach me life lessons like that. He wanted me to see what it looked like from another perspective when I treated people badly and was ungrateful or just plain mean.
There’s a memory that sticks in my head that I’ve never talked to him about. I was probably about 12 and the way I remember it he was driving me home from gymnastics class. I was a complete failure at anything having to do with athletics but I’d just watched the summer Olympics and gymnastics was so cool. I wanted to be like Phoebe Mills and I had a pretty solid handstand but my talent ended there.
I was frustrated because the other kids were better than me and I was jealous and angry and tired of being in last place all the time.
Dad just looked at me and said, “Kindness wins. Every time.”
I don’t have a good gift to give Frank Towery Jr. this year. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but I suspect he’d probably just like to spend some time with me. I recognize how fortunate I am to have parents who are still living and still married to each other. I don’t want to ever take that for granted.
Happy Father’s Day to all the good guys out there.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.