I heard about a family who gave their father a box for Father’s Day.
It contained 365 slips of paper. On each slip of paper, family members had written favorite memories of their father, or a lesson he taught them, something they were grateful for, or something they admired about their dad. The idea was that he would read one piece of paper each day for a year.
On Wednesday, I decided to attempt to pull such a box together for my dad. For the record, 365 is a lot. I called, texted and e-mailed family members and told them I needed their first answers in the next five minutes. (Deadlines inspire.) I don’t know how close we’ll get to 365 by Sunday, but we’ll try. Here’s a sampling of their first responses:
My niece Casey: “I remember just the two of us going to visit his mother in the nursing home. I remember him taking me to batting cages. I remember him taking Jake and me to Lookout Mountain. I remember when he and I went to Germany. I remember him talking to people trying to help me get scholarships.”
My brother Rusty: “I think Dad instilled a good work ethic in us. I really admire that he loved coaching football and chose that as his profession and couldn’t give it up. I’m thankful that they took me to church every Sunday.”
My brother Robin: “If you see a turtle on a fence post, he had some help getting there. Work hard and you’ll make your own luck.”
And then he was on a roll.
My sister-in-law Tracy: “One of my favorite memories happened when Robin and I hadn’t been dating long. We walked in to see your parents. Your dad said, ‘Come here, girl.’ He gave me a big hug and acted like I was so special. I wasn’t used to that kind of affection.”
My sister-in-law Stephanie: “Every time I eat a steak, I think about his football player who said, “Lawd, what a poke chop,” upon seeing his first-ever steak.”
My daughter Greer: “The way when he comes to visit us, he sits at the downstairs television and yells to the top of his lungs, ‘Cut my TV on, Greer.’ I also remember going to the golf course with him, riding in the golf cart on joy rides and cleaning golf balls in one of those pump-action ball cleaning things.”
My husband: “I admire the way he’d do anything in the world for his grandchildren. I like the way he gets people’s attention because no matter what he does, he still talks like a football coach.”
I could list many things, but the first thing that came into my head was that I am grateful that 34 years ago, on the eve of my first-ever track meet, he taught me to do a Fosbury Flop. The fact that he believed a 12-year-old girl could learn the Flop and stayed out late at the high jump pit on a Wednesday night to teach it to me is one piece of what he did to give me confidence that lasted. I may have never won a high jump event, but I did a beautiful Fosbury Flop.