Maybe the holiday heightened my sense of loss, but it seemed that the national media converged more than usual around memorialized fathers.
First, we heard over and over how TV political moderator Tim Russert is no longer here for his son or to honor his own father. No conversation of Russerts rise to political prominence is complete without the well-documented inspiration from his dad - Big Russ, a sanitation worker from Buffalo.
Tiger Woods surely had his father in mind when he heroically won the U.S. Open on one leg after recent knee surgery. Earl Woods was Tigers golf mentor and closest friend before passing away a couple of years ago. My dad loved golf and was in awe of the Tiger Woods phenomenon. He would have been thrilled to watch Tigers unlikely win of another major tournament over Fathers Day weekend.
On the other hand, active military fathers (and mothers) seem to be largely forgotten of late in our nervous breakdown over housing foreclosures and high gasoline prices. What about the thousands of families stricken by the casualties of fathers caught in the crossfire of violence in the Middle East? The number of fatherless children suffering as a result of these military ventures must be staggering.
Unlike me, my dad was never preachy. It was his example that spoke volumes to the rest of us. He was always in a good mood, ready to drop everything and lend a helping hand. I never heard of anyone who didnt like him. My father is greatly missed.
He loyally worked for Buick Motors in Flint for 44 years, rarely missed a day of work, and purchased only GM vehicles. He even gave two fingers to the GM cause, the result of a malfunctioning stamp machine. The accident occurred before unionization - a time when Buick policy rewarded maimed employees with a few hundred dollars.
My father was also a dedicated UAW union man, sitting with the original Flint strikers during the most important union walk out in American history in1936. It is difficult now to imagine an era of autoworkers being paid 37 cents an hour. Walking the picket line for a nickel raise could get you killed in those days. My father and others like him played an important part in guaranteeing a living wage and improved safety conditions for American workers today.
My fathers faithfulness to his marriage never weak-ened as he and my mother spent 68 loving and active years together. Family was most important for him - he felt no shame when bragging about us to perfect strangers. Dad reveled to be able to live his retirement years in Northern Michigan, where he spent much of his childhood. He loved to repeat the stories of our family history here, filled with tales of youthful daredevil deeds, dancehall fights, and frequent jail time for a couple of uncles.
No one messed with my father. Pound for pound he was physically the strongest person I have ever known. Yet, it is his strength of character that I remember most.
Since I have inherited some of his clothes, I can literally feel his sturdy presence. His fleece vests keep me warm against lifes cold blasts of arctic wind. I sense my fathers Buick belt buckle holding it all together when my responsibilities seem a little overwhelming. I often walk with one of his many pairs of New Balance running shoes to guide me. Dad never ran from anything, but New Balance shoes are made in the U.S. and besides, he preferred substance over style.
Ironically, I have never been able to wear my fathers clothes before - as an adult my sizes have been larger. I attribute the mysteriously good fit of my new wardrobe to a higher power suggesting that I need to be more like my dad.
I dont really need his clothes, though, because I know my father will always be with me. In his own way, he is still nearby, showing me how to walk in the right path.