When you're growing up, life feels as though it will go on forever — indeed, you wish
to push it forward with all the strength your small arms can muster. "If I was just
older..." is a common refrain. And all those around you who make your day-to-day life
what it truly is are easily taken for granted. I was certainly no different...
I treasured my relationship with my Dad. He was warm, funny, and loving. My dad
had worked for first RCA, and then NASA, allowing us to travel all over the country. In fact,
some of you know that I've lived in 39 different states in my life. Much of this was our travel
for NASA. Yes, Dad was one of the brightest men I ever knew and I looked up to him from
day one. Everyone should be so lucky as to have someone like him in their lives.
I lost my Dad in March of 1998 with little warning. It was at midnight (a week before Daddy's
birthday,) that Mother called to tell me he'd had a heart attack. (As it turned out, it was not
a heart attack, but a stroke.) Four days later, my father was gone.
While I miss him every day, I am filled with amazing memories of him. At times
I'll remember one of his jokes, or something funny he did, and I'll just start laughing...
He left me with so much to think back on... But I want to share one very special memory.
One Father's Day week when I was eight years old, I was shopping with my parents in a large
department store (for those of you in the Southeast, it was a Belk's.) We weren't shopping for
me specifically, but as we navigated the store, my eye caught a shimmery blue dress
with folds and folds of lace and tulle, adorned with blue satin sashes. It looked like
something Cinderella would wear to the ball. I froze, mesmerized for a few moments.
My Mom reached down to retrieve me, but I resisted, pointing out this glorious creation
to my parents. I heard Daddy whisper something to Mom, and could tell whatever he'd said,
Mom dismissed. I couldn't hear, but I knew the drill. Mom was telling Daddy it
was too expensive and a silly extravagance. I took one last look at the dress, and
we were off.
It was several days later – the day before Father's Day – that Daddy left the house for a "trip
to the hardware store" (a rather regular event.) Later that night when I went into my bedroom,
a box lay on my bed. Daddy had gone back to the store and bought me my fairy-princess dress. Giving
me that dress was his Father's Day gift to himself. To this day it remains one of the most precious memories I have.
If you had to guess, when would you say that the world's first Father's Day greeting appeared? Chances are,
you'd pick sometime in the 20th century. And you'd be sort of right, but the real answer is that the first
Father's Day message was created a lot earlier than that. Nearly 4,000 years ago, a young Babylonian named
Elmesu carved a message for his father in clay. The message was a wish for his father to have good health and a long life.
It's not surprising that Elmesu wanted to celebrate his father. Fathers throughout history have comforted,
protected, taught and inspired their children. They deserve a day that celebrates them. No one made a serious
effort to set aside such a day, though, until a woman named Sonora Dodd came up with the idea in 1909.
Mrs. Dodd's father, William Jackson Smart, had raised her and her five siblings after their mother died in
childbirth. Listening to a Mother's Day sermon at a church near her family's home in eastern Washington State,
Mrs. Dodd thought about the sacrifices her father had made for his children and the fine job he had done in
raising them. Because her father had been born in June, she decided to encourage the churches in her area to
honor fathers in June. Through her efforts, the first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington, in
Similar celebrations started up around the country over the next few years, and President Calvin Coolidge was
said to support the idea of a nationwide Father's Day holiday. But although Congress passed several resolutions
in support of the holiday, it did not become an official U.S. holiday until 1972, when then-President Nixon
issued a proclamation declaring the third Sunday in June as Father's Day in the United States.
Officially or unofficially, though, great fathers - and stepfathers, grandfathers, adoptive fathers, and other
men involved in rearing children - have been worthy of celebrating for centuries. Be sure to celebrate yours