Quick Story About My Dad

A Superbowl ad has given new play to Harry Chapin’s “The Cat’s in the Cradle,” which has me thinking about my dad. I’m probably not alone.


Some of my “way with words,” comes from my dad. My mom is eloquent, erudite, and a good story teller, so I like to think I am like her. But, my dad is clever, stoic and just a little profane, as mentioned here before, and I like to think I’m like him, too. I’m not sure I do either justice.

Nobody in my family is super good with emotion. We try not to cry or yell, but of the two, yelling is more acceptable. We laugh a lot though, and that’s better than both anyway. Emotion baffles my dad more than any of us.

When my husband died, my dad gave me a fifty dollar bill. He offered it with a tilt of his head and one eyebrow lifted, as if he was going to say something, too. He might have had a speech planned, but nothing ever materialized. That’s O.K. I didn’t need the money, and my dad wasn’t suggesting it would really fix anything. He just didn’t know what else to do.

A year later, my brother experience a horrific personal tragedy. There might have been another fifty dollar bill. The year may have given him time to think. Along with the money came words this time. “I…I feel like I have my head up my ass here,” he counseled.

My dad drove my brother to college, a three hour trip that can become a little tedious. The radio is necessary on a long car ride with my dad, because conversation can be scarce, but sometimes it feels a little like there should be conversation. Silence intensifies that tension, and the radio helps. The only station with a signal strong enough for the whole drive down I-93 in New Hampshire is an easy listening station, which can trend toward emotional oldies. When they were most of the way there, the haunting opening notes began. Then the words, “A son arrived just the other day…”

Hearing it, my dad took a deep breath, turned off the radio, and not quite looking at my brother, said, “That’s enough of that crap.”

We love you too, dad.