Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Did You Call Me?

Enjoying Brazil vs. USA at Fed-Ex Field
I Love My Dad!

I feel like Father's Day is as good a time to declare that as any.


This is no slight to my Mom (who reads my blog faithfully) or to any of the other moms or women in the world. (I love you, Mom!)


Given that it is nearing Father's Day and I'm working on a project called "Dude Write" that is honoring the male bloggers of the world, what better time to honor a guy who taught me a lot about life.

Let me get one thing straight from the matter our station in life or our ages, my dad will always be "Dad" and I know that sounds obvious. I suppose that there are a myriad of things I could call him, but only some fit.

He was never a Papa because I wasn't born in the twenties in Italy, nor are we Italian. Likewise, he never got a Pa, because we aren't in the south or the thirties. Additionally, he has never been called Padre or Poppi or Pops.

He was for a time Dada, then Daddy, though as a young man grows up the latter is more suited to the girls in the family, as in "Daddy's Little Girl."

Father is very formal and from a time gone by. Robert Young starred as the title character in "Father Knows Best" and his kids actually called him "Father." That has always been too formal for our relationship. You can't say "Father, did you fart?" or "Father, did you watch the game this weekend?" and certainly not "Father, grab me a beer while you're up!"

Enjoying being a first time grandfather to some awesome grandkids, he got the opportunity to choose his ultimate patriarchal moniker, Gramps. Though it sounds like cramps, the kids could all say it and that made him happy.

Now, to me, he is Dad. It fits.

I've honored a request he made of me when I was but a youngster. His simple request was that I never refer to him as "My Old Man." I don't know if this was some sort of vanity on his part, but frankly he has never been vain in any other area of his life. He kept a buzz cut through the seventies and grew longer hair and a full beard in the eighties, so a glory seeking fan boy he was not.

I never questioned the request. I have a good friend who referred to his dad in that way, lovingly of course, and he would often ask "how's your old man?" This seemed like an innocuous question that didn't seem like I would have to dishonor the request. I always took his question and was clear in my answer that "my dad" was good.

The interesting thing about my Dad is that he's been winging the fatherhood business my entire life. You see, his father passed away when he was a child. He had just turned six. Adding to that wonderful year, not more than a week after his dad died, he had to go into the very same hospital to have his tonsils removed. Many people wouldn't have been able to turn that around.

Here are just a few things he has taught me:

  • Honor your country, remove your hat and be reverent during the national anthem. (He hates the "OH" thing as much as I do!)
  • Honor God and you don't have to be in church on Sunday to talk to him.
  • Love your wife and forgive her when she notices your many faults.
  • Spend time with your kids, nursing homes aren't "home."
  • Hugs are always appropriate. Get over it!
  • Work hard and enjoy the rewards of it.
Additionally, he taught me things like "bring a flashlight and a lunchbox, because it will be an all night job!" This in reference to one of the many times I was foolish enough to think I could take him on. (in jest)

He didn't teach me to fish or to hunt, which his dad probably would have been inclined to teach him. He taught me to bird watch, play chess, enjoy soccer, drive, and probably most important not to take myself too seriously.

I had the pleasure to work with him for more than 10 years and his work ethic was always just right, somewhat a "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" routine where we worked hard when there was work to be done, but no month went by when a bit of tomfoolery was needed or a caraf of red wine needed to be used to spark creativity in what would turn into a half day. He would refer to the "boss in the mirror" and talk about whether he would take a day off.

I'm lucky to have a great relationship with my dad as I work towards the years of my own fatherhood.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

What do you call your paternal ancestor?

Dude Write




  1. My dad is called "dad" but when I was very young up till around the age of 7 he was called "bay" by me and only me and no, no one knows why I called him

  2. Crazy how things go like that.

  3. My dad was always called Dad. He died 2 years ago at the age of 57. He lived a rough life. Quite sad, really. I may have to write about it someday. I miss him.

  4. I've always called him dad. We live on opposite coasts, so we talk at least one a week, often for an hour or more at a time.

  5. I'm truly lucky to still have my dad. Thanks for the comment.

  6. I think distance is an influencer for sure. Because my dad lives close, there is always a sense that I can just drop in or call him real quick, but often I go too long.

  7. Yeah, my dad was and still is "Dad".

    I love the list of things your dad has taught you over the years. The whole "Take your hat off during the National Anthem" is one of the most UN-taught values of our day. And it makes me sad.

    Thanks for sharing! Happy Father's Day!

  8. Thanks Michael! I hate when people don't respect the men and women of the military as well. Like respecting the President, you don't have to like the person, but respect the office.

  9. Wow! You made me tear up. Thanks for a great tribute to your "Dad". \

  10. Very interesting, because my dad's name is Robert Young.

    Great post. Now I've gotta go out and buy something for my old man... I mean dad.

  11. Well, then wish "Father" a Happy Father's Day from all of us!

  12. Thanks, this was surprisingly harder to write than I had first thought.

  13. Like you, he was always Dad to me, but I was always "son" to him. It was easier than remembering five names. Your Dad sounds awesome. You are a lucky guy and you honored him so well in this post. Happy Father's Day!

  14. I was the only boy, so I was son but also "son"

  15. Dad will always be Dad, he taught me to laugh and to look at the world.

    If I become half the man he is I will consider myself a success.

    Great Post, Father's Day in Australia is in September, but I never need a holiday to tell my Dad he is awesome.



  16. You know it didn't occur to me that Father's Day wasn't internationally the same.

  17. I wasn't one of many employees, I was the only one. I can see how some dads would have to excise the favoritism demons.
    My son works with me now, though I am in no way his boss due to company rules. It is fun to share rides and stories with him. I feel that this time will be remembered long after the employment part ends.
    Thanks for your comment.

  18. Lovely tribute! :)

    My dad was Daddy until sometime in my teenage-hood. All of a suddent I became self-conscious about calling him daddy in front of my friends - so tried to switch to dad. However, he liked being called daddy and expressed his disappointment in the name change pretty strongly. I was in a predicament lol... So, I took the Malayalam word for father, which is Achen, and revised it a bit to suit me. I turned it into Ach and pronounced it with an American accent in order to personalize it a bit. Turned out very nicely and I call him that to this day :-)

  19. That begs an "Ach who?". Just sayin'!

  20. I wasn't close to my father when I was a child, and now I view him more as a friend than a father. My nieces call him Papa, and they consider him their dad. I'll let them have that because I did not.

  21. Lol.... ok, that's what will go though my mind when I talk to him tonight.

  22. That makes me a little sad, Nellie.

  23. Just one of the services I offer...

  24. Very inspiring post!
    Unfortunately, I'm closer to my step-father than my actual father, but that's not to say that I have a bad relationship with him of anything. Anyway, when I'm talking about him I use "father," but when talking to him I use "dad." I definitely remember calling him "daddy" in my diaper days, though.

  25. Always "Daddy" till the day he died. He pretty much taught us the same things but also the art of being proper southern ladies too. He was a bit of a wild young person and I think I got that from him too. THe hard headedness and strong sense of history I got from my native american grandfather. My children called my daddy, papaw.

  26. Michael G D'AgostinoJune 18, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    I agree, Dad is the best word to use. My Dad's taught me a lot too, but interestingly I've fought against it for most of the way. I might write a post about it myself in the future.

  27. Very sweet. Sorry he is gone, sounds like a great guy!

  28. Nothing wrong with that either. Thanks for stopping by.

  29. You're young. Kids are the best to show you how little you know and how much Dad figured out. Thanks for the comment.

  30. Well he was great in his own way. He was a bit of an asshat but so fiercely protective of his family and loved us more than life itself. He was 19 when my parents had a set of twins so I think he went a little overboard in the discipline department because as well as can attest to the fact that even today its hard to be a parent, but hey its all water under the bridge and he was always my hero. I think I managed to raise some pretty remarkable children myself. :)

  31. Agree on "dad" - by far the most regular and unpretentious word to use. Although in the Ukrainian equivalent is actually "papa", so I guess that makes us semi Italian? Thanks for the great DudeWrite initiative!

  32. I did not know that. Since we're all such mutts, it wouldn't surprise me to be part Ukranian. Thanks for stopping by and reading my slightly more serious side.




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