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When is Father's Day OK again when our dads are gone?

June 15, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
I was angry at the world this morning and I think it’s because it’s Father’s Day and I’m still not used to not having one after losing Dad in August of 2007.

I spent all those years, even after the birth of my own kids, focusing on the day being about my father. My kids were honoring me, but it was my place to honor him.

I’ve never gotten used to the change, and I hide it usually by being a big-time grump the day before. This year was no different.

My brain understands it’s just stupid to be so irrational. Dad would, after all, be turning 92 this month. Most people aren’t so blessed by that many years on this earth. Nor are all blessed with having a dad right on into middle age. Fewer still are blessed to have had a good dad, and only a couple of us get the one-in-a-million kind who leave that gigantic indelible mark on our lives in the most positive way. And I know that to those of us who had the kind of fathers the world lacks nowadays, we all think they were one-in-a-million.

Some days lately, since returning to the newspaper, I hear his voice coming out of my thoughts and my head. I got the college education he always wanted, thanks to his toil in a now-silent set of blast furnaces on the banks of the Ohio River in Weirton. I get to use the Website of the newspaper to express my thoughts. Unlike my two siblings, I didn’t do anything “constructive:” I don’t save lives like my sister has throughout her career, nor do I keep ‘em flying like my brother. But I do get to tell folks what I think and if there’s disagreement, well, then, you can kiss my...well, that was his attitude. Just paraphrasing here.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Not many of us hear their father’s last words as, “You’re a good son. I love you.” As goofy a son as I surely must have been, those were his thoughts a few hours before he passed away from the falling apart Steubenville to the one where all the Italians still live in an eternally sunny and happy South End. I waxed his car, Enrico the Cruiser this morning, after much consternation and grousing about how there’s never any wax in the garage when I go to wax the car but nobody ever tells me they used all the wax. Nor is the wax and cleaner cabinet in the condition I left it in. Nor is everything perfect.

Took the guys down at Toronto Auto Parts to remind me (I felt like Tim Allen in “Home Improvement” getting psychology at the hardware store) that surely, none of us drove our dads nuts by messing up the workbench, losing tools, using all the wax and not telling anyone.


I think if anyone looks carefully, they’ll find a bunch of sockets in the ground in the back yard of what was my dad’s house. I had this habit of just taking a pocketful of all sizes of sockets anytime I needed one, so I’d have just the right one for the job at hand, and then not always putting them back in the workbench. I never remember him losing his patience over that kind of stuff. The use of the word “bananahead” never bothered me. He saved big losses of patience for major rules violations. And I had a few of those.

So, I polished his Cruiser in his honor today.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. May we be leaving the good kind of indelible mark on all those “little guys” who mess up our garages and workbenches.

And can somebody tell me when, after the loss of a father, does it become OK on Father’s Day to just enjoy being the father the family is honoring?


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