By: Sang Thi Duong/Beth Bellor

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are a really bad child, you know by now that this is the weekend we celebrate dad. You’ll recall, last month we had our contributors talk about the best thing their moms ever said or did for them. Now it’s time to say thanks to our dads. Take a look at what our contributors remember most about the first man in their lives then leave memories of your pa in the comments section.

Rachel Vidoni and dad, Fred

Some of the best memories of my father are him playing the piano. As a child I’d lay in bed at night and listen to him sing and play songs, occasionally shouting requests from my room. As I grew older we’d sing songs from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s together, even belting out musical ditties from Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables. When I go to visit him in Arizona we always get a song or two in, but I really miss the peaceful feeling of falling asleep to the melodies he played.

Will Jones’ dad, Fred

Growing up, the thing I remember most about my dad was the time we spent fishing together. As a kid, I thought that those trips were about trying to catch fish, but as a dad, now I think back on the things my own father said to me as we stared into the water together. There were life lessons, lectures, parables, and even the odd reprimand; all given between baiting hooks and waiting for bites. The first beer we ever shared together was on one of those trips, as was the first time he ever let me drive his car and the first conversation we had about the birds and the bees (I don’t think our eyes ever met a single time). Now, I take my son fishing, hoping I can pass on some of the things my father gave me. If I’m ever half the dad that my dad is, I’ll be doing pretty great.

Dave Manoucheri and his dad, Jeff

When I became a musician, first as a band member and then my own band, my dad was in the same spot, right in front, listening to us play. Every single gig. One night, in the deep of winter, with snow blanketing the roads, my father showed up at the Howard Street Tavern in Omaha-180 miles from his home. That night, he got a private show, being the only one in the audience aside from the ceiling fans and light fixtures. It’s not that he attended, he supported us. While it would have been logical to tell us to give up that dream, be “normal” or face reality, he stayed. Even helped us break down at 2 am. “Never let them tell you that you can’t do something”  was what he told us. Sure, I’m a writer, but I love music and would have done that full-time if life had permitted. So when my daughter said she wants to go to college for acting and film…I knew just what to do. Maybe I’ll get to walk the red carpet with her some day!

Ella Rucker and her dad, Charles

My dad is a very funny, witty person. He has more degrees than any of his children and the times he was really mad are urban legends in our house. A joker through and through he thinks he is so funny (as opposed to me…I KNOW I’m funny!).

After nine years my parents got divorced and one thing I can say about my father is that he never acted like it with or around us. He got an apartment closer to our school than our own house so we could see him every day and when he had to move six hours away he made the commute almost every weekend. He also adopted three children. So I would say my dad taught me that if you want to be in someone’s life you do it, and that a family isn’t just blood, it’s love.

Amy Montalvo and her dad, Steve

Some of the best memories I have of my dad are the innumerable times he’s been there to support me over the years, always encouraging me to do my best, no matter what the situation, and always there to pick me up when I’ve fallen. He gave me the advice to “sprint to the finish” at 5th grade field day, and many years later… I’m still using that advice. Because even if I’m not running a race, the sentiment there is to give your all, to strive with everything you have, whether you’re competing, or taking tests, or working a job, or giving to others.

To this day, I always “sprint to the finish” because of his advice. I did that in a race in April and at the end of my last overseas, business trip, when the work, travel and exhaustion were all becoming too much. I pushed to the end because I knew that doing your best and being your best, for yourself and for anyone who might be looking to you as an example… well, is always worth it. I am a better person because of his example and his advice, and I hope I continue to grow and sprint and try and succeed and maybe sometimes even fail. Because I know that through it all, he will be proud of me. He has never failed to remind me of that. Thanks, Dad. It means more than you know.

Sang Thi Duong and her dad, Cuu

My father = Dictator! Yep, I said it! See, my father is Vietnamese, my mother was American (miss you mom) and things were just a tad bit different in the small country town I was raised in.  Remember this article Rene wrote about “western” parenting? That is a similar environment I grew up in! I have more stories that Shakespeare when it comes to my childhood that would make your blood boil. Heck, I get heated just thinking about it. However, what I did learn from my father has truly impacted my life, how I parent, and my relationships with those around me!  He taught me about loyalty, honesty, respect, work hard, earn what you deserve and to keep private.  I happen to come across this picture of when I was about 2…I just wish I remembered this fun moment.  There may not have been too many “happy” days in our household that I can recall yet; these are attributes that I carry with me every day and for that – I thank you and Happy Father’s Day!

Sarena James and her dad Aaron

53 years separated my father and me; little else did. The scenes from my childhood don’t find us on many bike rides up and down neighborhood hills, or spinning endlessly on a merry-go-round at the park. Physically, he was not able to do as much as he had with my older brothers, but with his words, he did much more. 

The wedding photo of my father walking me down the aisle is one of the most beautiful memories in my life. His strength was beautiful. His courage was beautiful. His love for me remained uninterrupted, not even by his excruciating pain. He refused to get a wheelchair on that day. While we did not march to the rhythm of the music being played, ours was a rhythm set to the beat of our own hearts, and it did not matter how long it took us to walk down the aisle of the church. What mattered was that he was with me, and together we walked as one. 

A year and a half after our wedding he passed away, ironically on a visit to see his sister in another state who was given only days to live. She lived five years longer. I know the ache of not being able to say the last good-bye. It is one of the reasons why I spend my life loving, and hugging, and laughing, and hoping, and feeling, and writing from the depths of my soul. One day I’ll tell my father hello, again…

Rene Syler and her dad, Bill (and sister, Tracy)

I was saddened to see how few photos I have of me with my father. It’s not that Bill Syler didn’t play a big role in our lives. It’s just that he was more the shy, quiet type. My dad was an amazing provider who, without even knowing it, provided the blueprint for who I would choose for a husband (ultimately; after a few bad boys). But one of my fondest memories was every night when he came home from work, my sister and I would hide somewhere in the house. No matter how tired he was or how hard he worked, the first thing he’d do was spent 5 minutes hunting for his daughters. I loved that about him.

Wendy Syler’s dad (and my brother) Bill

I will admit, it has been hard trying to come up with a fitting memory of my father: the time he bought me a gold necklace with a ballet charm, the time he drove me around town on the back of his motorcycle, the first time I saw him fight, the time I saw him deal with death, the many, many times I found him asleep at the desk from working until 3 a.m…. so I won’t, I can’t choose just one. Instead, my dad is one of those people who is bigger than just one memory. He is the epitome of strength, conviction, kindness, love, and loyalty. Through every hurtle, obstacle, hard time and snot-nosed kid that my dad has come across, he has done so with an unshakable faith that is humbling even to someone as obstinate as me. His smile is contagious, his sense of family is unparalleled, and his selflessness is the stuff of which legends are made.

Alexis Walker talks about her dad,
Joshua Jack Trass, Jr.

It’s so hard for me to come up with one particular good memory of my father. Believe me, there are plenty but they all carry equal weight in my heart. It’s painful to choose only one.

My father passed away in 2007. Although I was 32-years-old, I still relied on him for his thoughts and opinions on almost everything. In a totally not creepy way, it was like he was still raising me though I had long been out of his house and had a family of my own. I have three sisters but everybody knows I was his favorite (admittedly, we all fight about this) because when I was a teenager we talked. A lot.

When most teens were fleeing their parents, I was talking up a storm with my dad. We would talk late into the night about whatever was on my mind. Even when I interrupted him with my teenage foolishness during the NBA playoffs in the early 1990s, he would still turn off the TV and make time for me. He might have been a fan of Michael Jordan, but he was a bigger fan of me.

I felt like I was the most important person in the world to my father every time I needed him the most. And maybe that’s the good memory and legacy I want to pass on to my own children.



Okay your turn.. what do you remember most about your dad? Is he the strong, silent type or the life of the party? What lessons to he leave you about life that you hope to pass on to your own children some day?


More from GEM:

Tandem Tantrums: I am Nothing Like My Mother

The GEM Debate: Is Abstinence Really Realistic?

Hey Mom! How About You Just.Say.No?