by C.J. Darlington
Remembering Our Dads : 16 Authors Share
Memorable Dad Moments
It's amazing how much dads impact our lives, and any day's a great day to honor them. 16 authors do just that as they share their most memorable (or humorous!) story about their father. But remember ... even if you never had a chance to know your dad, you have a Father in heaven who cares about you deeply!
Here are the stories in no particular order:
Bodie Thoene (Love Finds You in Lahaina, HI & the upcoming The Gathering Storm):
I have so many wonderful memories of my Papa that I can hardly sort them out without writing another book about my childhood. One of my first ever memories is, interestingly enough, a historical memory. When I was almost 4 years old, my Father drove us to see the great battleship Missouri where the surrender of Japan and the end of WW2 was signed. The Mighty Mo was being decommissioned and Papa, as a proud Navy man, wanted to say farewell. Papa's brother was working on the old ship, taking out the guns and stripping it for scrap. I remember clearly seeing row upon row of anti-aircraft guns sitting in the parking lot. I can still see Papa's pleated trousers and two-tone shoes as I lifted my arms and he scooped me up.
Papa carried me across the deck of the once proud Mighty Mo to the place where there was a bend in the railing at the side of the ship. This was where, in April of 1945, a Japanese kamikaze plane struck in an attempt to sink the ship in one of the great battles of the Pacific. Papa pointed to the horizon and described the kamikazee planes flying low and taking aim at the battleship as the guns blazed and sailors tried to knock them out of the sky before they hit. Five enemy planes were shot down.
"But this one plane made it through, little Bo," he said. "It smashed into the side of the Mighty Mo right here." he pointed down to the wound in the steel vessel. I know my eyes must have been wide. I was afraid the suicide planes were still out there somewhere. Mama warned him he was scaring me. But Papa continued, "But the Mighty Mo didn't sink. The enemy failed. Just this dent here. It's a good wound because it's proof of how strong the ship is. A while later this very battleship sailed into Tokyo Harbor and the Emperor of Japan surrendered at a table set up right over there...." His deep brown eyes were so serious. "You're always going to remember this, even though you're little. I want you to remember this... Don't ever be afraid of anything that comes at you, Bodie. You'll either knock 'em out of the sky, or they'll smash themselves against you, but God won't let you sink. The good guys really do win in the end... always."
I did remember that day and what Papa said to me. I always remember the lesson and the love with which my father taught me something so important about the battles of life.
Forty-five years later
when Brock and I took our kids to Pearl Harbor to visit the restored
Mo, I stepped onto that deck and was able
to lead them directly to the very spot my Papa had held me in his arms
and told me the lesson of the kamikaze plane. And you know what I said
to my children? "The good guys really will win in the end...always..."
Kristin Billerbeck (Perfectly Dateless, Ashley Stockingdale series):
My dad is a plumber, and the best daddy ever -- while being the worst gift-buyer in the world. The only gifts he's ever bought me, I remember as clear as a bell, just because they were so ugly -- like the year he came home from Mexico with this GHASTLY orange and red Aztec-style sweater when I was in high school. My brother got the two foot ceramic Porky Pig.
My favorite story though, is the one year he bought me a Valentine's Day card. He'd never done it before, so I was shocked. I opened it up and Bugs Bunny is on the card with the words: Happy Valentine's Day to... and you opened it up and it said, "The World's Greatest Lover" -- which is crossed out in pen and my Dad signed it, "Sorry, forgot to open the card."
I still have the card. To this day it makes me laugh out loud.
B. Jenkins (The Last Operative, Riven):
To an outsider our family might appear strange. Though we are all relatively outgoing and social-minded, whenever we get together — even after not seeing each other for months — my three brothers and I take each other in stride.
The lack of enthusiasm in our greetings could surprise people who expect families to embrace or outwardly exult, but that’s just something we’ve never done.
Yet feelings run deep. I sense as much affection in our casually picking up conversations — and relationships — where they left off as I would in a joyous reception.
Part of that comes from our late dad. He was humorous and an articulate poet, but not overly expressive. “Still waters run deep” and “strong, silent type” are the clichés. A man’s man, a Marine, a police chief, still he was always polite, soft spoken, considerate, a gentleman.
He never considered it old-fashioned to open a door for a woman or to rise when she entered the room. Once, a stranger – for whom he had held a door, hissed, “I suppose you think that makes you a gentleman.”
Dad smiled and said, “Only if you’re a lady.”
He was once told he was “honest to a fault” — quite a commentary if you think about it.
Dad was a one-woman man all his life. If the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother, my brothers and I had the best thing done for us from birth.
Dad was an unabashed romantic and proved his love for our mother daily. He was a model in his willingness to scrub floors, change diapers, cook, or whatever else needed doing when all four boys were home and Mom needed help. He was never too much man for that. He didn’t just tell us what to do; he showed us.
It’s said we get our first and most lasting image of God from our fathers. That makes me grateful. Grateful my dad was faithful. Grateful he was industrious. Grateful he loved his sons unconditionally and proved it over and over.
I’m grateful Dad’s priorities were right and uncompromising. Grateful he cared more about people than things, more about family than money, more about loyalty and integrity than image.
perfect. But to have half his character is my loftiest dream.
Photo caption: My dad, Harry Jenkins, was a life long career law enforcement officer. In 1962, as a member of the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Police Department, he was chosen to drive the Democratic presidential candidate in a local parade. That's Dad behind the wheel, at age 38, a year before he became a police chief in Illinois.
Mary Ellis (The Way to a Man's Heart, Sarah's Christmas Miracle):
My favorite Father's Day memory is going fishing with my dad when I was around eight years old. He patiently baited my hook (since I didn't want to touch a worm) and watched me catch fish after fish using my bamboo pole and bobber. He had a much nicer rod and reel, but caught no fish whatsoever. I also didn't wish to kill any fish, so he patiently removed the hook from their mouths and threw the fish back in. At day's end, he told me I was the best fisherwoman he'd even seen. I was just happy to spend time with my dad.
Grady (Tomorrow We Die, Through the Fire): 31
flavors to choose from for a complimentary cone on your birthday.
It was July and a joyous three block walk down to the store at the
corner of West 37th and El Camino Real in San Mateo, California.
My father strolled beside me and I held in my elementary schooler
something of rare and immense value that wind or carelessness threatened
to steal away— a pink free ice cream certificate. Ice cream. I possessed neither the power nor the
means to get to 31 Flavors on my own and purchase it. But I had
been awarded it.
of having a birthday and being an American and having a dad, I’d
been blessed. My father smiled and listened and guided me along
the sidewalk. I’d
never been that far down the road on my own before. The store lay on
the opposite corner of a busy intersection— cars and trucks whizzing
past with gravel tossing speed. The air smelled of exhaust and dusty
metal and the sky, so familiar and blue beyond the front lawn at home,
then seemed distant and removed by gray edifices and streets and the
commotion of the city. My father squeezed my hand tight, led me across the street and into
the store. What a relief it was, after long, curved window fogging minutes deciding
on a flavor, to hand that pink slip to the cashier and receive my ice-cream
cone. The boulevard buzzed outside with its busy thoroughfare
din. I held my cone like a trophy. Rocky-road and its delectable
of flavors. We crossed the street again, and in the building shadowed
reprieve of the far sidewalk, beyond the commotion and danger of
I licked the cold ball of ice-cream atop my cone… And it dropped. Splat, in only the way ice-cream can on a warm summer sidewalk. My eyes welled up. My cheeks flushed. That was it.
my one certificate for my birthday. I’d have to wait an entire
year to get another. My treasure, lost! The tragedy! My father’s voice came calm and reassuring. Don’t cry.
It’s okay. We’ll go back. We can get another one. We can. My father cared for me. He provided for me. He loved me.
It’s funny what constitutes an emergency for different people. For paramedic Jonathan Trestle in my second novel, Tomorrow We Die, life and death circumstances are all part of a day’s work. But for me as a kid, walking to Baskin Robbins with my dad on my birthday, tragedy took on a whole different form.
Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.
Renee Riva (Farley's Five & Dime, Saving Sailor trilogy):
My favorite story about my dad happened when I was I very young. He loved to snow ski. As a matter of fact, he was on the slopes while I was being brought into the world. I came early and there were no cell phones back then.
31 flavors to choose from for a complimentary cone on your birthday. It was July and a joyous three block walk down to the store at the corner of West 37th and El Camino Real in San Mateo, California. My father strolled beside me and I held in my elementary schooler grip something of rare and immense value that wind or carelessness threatened to steal away— a pink free ice cream certificate.
Ice cream. I possessed neither the power nor the means to get to 31 Flavors on my own and purchase it. But I had been awarded it. By virtue of having a birthday and being an American and having a dad, I’d been blessed.
My father smiled and listened and guided me along the sidewalk. I’d never been that far down the road on my own before. The store lay on the opposite corner of a busy intersection— cars and trucks whizzing past with gravel tossing speed. The air smelled of exhaust and dusty metal and the sky, so familiar and blue beyond the front lawn at home, then seemed distant and removed by gray edifices and streets and the commotion of the city.
My father squeezed my hand tight, led me across the street and into the store.
What a relief it was, after long, curved window fogging minutes deciding on a flavor, to hand that pink slip to the cashier and receive my ice-cream cone.
The boulevard buzzed outside with its busy thoroughfare din. I held my cone like a trophy. Rocky-road and its delectable combination of flavors. We crossed the street again, and in the building shadowed reprieve of the far sidewalk, beyond the commotion and danger of traffic, I licked the cold ball of ice-cream atop my cone…
And it dropped.
Splat, in only the way ice-cream can on a warm summer sidewalk.
My eyes welled up. My cheeks flushed. That was it. I’d used my one certificate for my birthday. I’d have to wait an entire year to get another. My treasure, lost! The tragedy!
My father’s voice came calm and reassuring. Don’t cry.
It’s okay. We’ll go back. We can get another one.
My father cared for me. He provided for me. He loved me.
One sunny day he decided to leave work early and go straight to the
slopes. He also dragged a business partner along in his business suit.
My dad talked him into riding up the chair lift with him then had him
stand on the back of his skis to ride down-- still in a suit and tie!
This man shared this story at my dad's memorial a few years back. It
was such a blessing to hear this for the first time. I know it was
true--that was just who my dad was. There are many real stories of
my dad written into my fiction books. He was the funniest person I
ever knew. I miss him tremendously.
Madera (Rodeo Dreams):
I could recall many memories of my father from childhood, but it is something that happened long after I’d left his home and required his care that epitomizes the kind of man that he is.
My Dad’s voice was one of the first things I heard early in the morning on September 11, 2001. Leaving our two young children in Washington, I had joined my husband on a business trip in the San Francisco area. After a week of helping Mark mix pleasure with business, I was ready to return home to my kids on a flight scheduled to leave later that day.
When Dad called we switched on the television in our darkened hotel room and watched in horror as the second of the Twin Towers fell in New York City. In an instant my sense of security, of the things I felt could be counted on, were rocked to the core. As I fought overwhelming anxiety, one main question loomed large: How would I get home to my kids? Mark had to stay an additional week on business. I could wait for the airports to open or rent a car and drive back myself. I didn’t have to ponder my situation very long.
“I’m going to come get you.”
was calm and matter-of-fact when he called again later. Driving through
the night, he covered over a thousand
miles to show up at our hotel
the following morning, a tired smile on his face. On the long drive back
we talked about the terrorist attacks, about America, about the God that
can be counted on no matter what. In the midst of the chaos and confusion
I felt a certain security return. Like Dad, God would never let me go. No
matter how old I got, or how far I’d journeyed, my Father was willing
to go great distances to make sure I made it home.
Hannon (In Harm's Way, An Eye for an Eye):
Trying to single out just one good memory of my dad is impossible—because all of my memories are great. He was—and is—a fabulous father. Let me tell you a little about him.
Dad was born in rural Ireland, where he lived until his late twenties in a small cottage without electricity or running water. After he came to America and married, he worked hard to support his family, at one point holding three jobs. Although he didn’t go to college, he fully supported my decision to do so. One example: He worked an extra night job to help pay the tuition at the college-track parochial high school I attended. And he always got up early every morning to drive me there. (Not a short distance.)
When I decided to write fiction, Dad was again front and center in my cheering section. And he’s also been one of my best proofreaders! Even though his favorite genre is mystery, he’s read every contemporary romance I’ve written—twice. Once in manuscript stage, and again in final galleys. Every now and then, though, he’d tell me if I should try writing a mystery. I kept saying, “Maybe someday.”
Well, that someday finally came about two years ago. And I got so caught up in that first book, I wrote three—all on spec—in between my contemporary romance commitments. Dad read them all. Loved them. Was certain they’d sell.
I’m happy to say they did—as the Heroes of Quantico series. In fact, every book became a CBA and ECPA bestseller. The final book, In Harm’s Way, has been on the CBA list for three months as of this writing.
When I sold that series, I knew I had to pay special tribute to the man who’d always encouraged me to branch into this genre. And I did so with this dedication, which appears in all three books:
“To my father, James Hannon, who always wanted me to write a mystery.
I hope suspense counts, Dad…because this series is for you.”
My dad, like many other parents I know, myself included, had a favorite past-time. He loved to embarrass his children. His most effective means to accomplish this was simply getting dressed. Every day he wore this wretched, red and white cloth, rimmed, fishing cap. We called it his Budweiser hat because it looked like it ought to have that logo on it. Anyway, my sisters and I would beg him not to put it on when we were going out anywhere we might actually run into our friends. This of course, only encouraged him.
For years this went on until the thing was old and tattered. We teenage girls loathed that stupid hat, but finally resigned ourselves to the fact that if our father would be buried with the thing.
One day, we were driving down the freeway on a family road trip, when a gust of wind sucked the Budweiser hat out the sedan window and into oncoming traffic. Car after car whizzed by, missing it. We all looked on, hopeful--my father that his luck would hold out--we children that it would be torn to smithereens.
When an eighteen-wheeler finally ran over it, we were sure that was the end of it. Everyone, except my father, cheered. . . until he pulled onto the shoulder of the road. He looked like Frogger trying to dodge speeding motor vehicles to get to it.
To our horror, he came back to the car holding that hat. The now frayed rim had been half torn off, and a big black skid mark marred the top. Without a word, he put it on and smiled into the rear-view mirror.
Nelson Dooley (Love Finds you in Golden, NM):
My dad really loved us kids. We lost our mother when I was 7, my brother 8, and our sister 2. I didn't find out until after he was gone that Daddy had a hard time. He was so afraid he'd have to put some or all of us in an orphanage. There weren't daycares near where we lived, and we were poor. But Daddy was able to keep the family together. One year at Christmas, while we were sleeping, he put on his boots and took a broom handle and made Santa footprints, reindeer footprints, and sleigh marks in the snow. His pet name for me was Doll. Thanks for taking me down memory lane like this to remember the godly man who brought me up to know the Lord.
Eric Wilson (Valley of Bones, Fireproof):
My father was a Bible smuggler and missionary while I was growing up. We had numerous experiences together in other countries, and he called me "his yellow bitty botty booper." (Who knows why?) When we moved back to the States, he pastored a church, then got into an adulterous relationship and left our family and congregation behind. It was very tough on me as a teenager.
In the years since, we have grown close again. We have shared many tears, hugs, and laughs. He encourages me to write. He encourages me to be honest. By example, he has taught me not hide sin and let it fester.
No matter how far apart a father and son wander, they can still find
that love again. I know. Thank God, it has happened for me.
Susan Page Davis (Crimson Cipher, Ladies Shooting Club series):
My dad was a game warden in the state of Maine. He used to have to give people summonses for infractions like hunting out of season or fishing without a license. One day he came home from lunch as my mom was putting the food on the table: fish, potatoes, and green beans. He looked suspiciously at the main dish and asked, "Where did you get the smelts?" "In the freezer," my mother said. Dad grimaced. "That was my evidence for court next week." After that he learned to carefully label anything he put in the freezer. And we ate the evidence.
Dellosso (Darlington Woods, Scream):
My memories of my dad are many but fragmented, scattered about the terrain of my mind like geodes, those weird little finds that look like ordinary rocks on the outside but when cracked open reveal hidden crystals that make anyone's eyes buggy. They're just memories, really, images caught in the synapses of my brain but when further explored they conjure up all sorts of emotions.
I have a good dad and the memories of times spent with him are many. From Oriole games to pro wrestling matches to playing catch in the backyard to our walks together now. But the best memory I have, that geode of the most precious type, goes back to my days in high school. I'm a senior and I'm standing on a basketball court. It's an away game and a big one. My dad has made it to every one of my games so far, something important to both of us, but he'd have to miss this one. Work responsibilities call and the game was just too far away to make it there in time.
The buzzer rings calling the end of the second quarter and I head off the court to the locker room for half time. As I exit the gym I glance up in the stands and there is my dad, taking a seat. He skipped out of work early, drove the two hours to the game, so he could make it there for the second half. The effort he made that night said more about his love for me and dedication as a dad than words could ever say.
As a father myself, I remember the feeling I had when I looked up
in that crowd and found my dad smiling and waving at me. I knew he
loved me, really knew it, not because he said it a lot, which he did,
not because even into high school and college he came into my room
every morning and kissed me on the forehead before leaving for work,
not because he provided for us by working grueling hours every week,
but because he put me ahead of everything else. That night I was the
priority and I knew it. I want to give my girls that same feeling.
Jackson (Who Do I Lean On?, Yada Yada Prayer Group:
Favorite memories of my Dad, *Isaac Holtzrichter Thiessen (1906-1989):*
father was school principal of my Christian high school (and my mother
was the librarian!). So of course I had to call him "Mr.
Thiessen" like all the other students. But I remember one time
I was in the hall during class for some reason and he came walking
down the same hall. He looked around, saw nobody else ... and gave
me a quickie hug. Made me feel so loved and
special in spite of his "official" role.
He also had a good sense of humor. One Christmas my mom was complaining that her slippers were wearing out and she needed a new pair (hint hint). Well, only one of the slippers was actually falling apart--so when she opened her present from Dad, there was a new slipper--as in ONE. She laughed so hard, she cried. (I loved seeing my folks tease each other.)
Last but not least,
my dad was an early riser, never failed to have his "devotion" time,
then he might go back to bed for a half hour or so. A number of times
I woke early, got up to go to the bathroom,
and saw him on his knees in the living room, praying for each one of
us BY NAME. This affected me deeply, and affects me still. Even when
we left home, I knew he was on his knees every morning praying for
us. I don't often pray on my knees, or even out loud if I'm by myself--but
I want to be the kind of parent and grandparent who prays for each
of my grown kids, their spouses, and my grandchildren on a daily basis--and
I want them to know I'm praying.
Copeland (Walker's Wedding, A Kiss for Cade):
My favorite memory of my dad is special. Dad always--without fail, brought a treat for me and my brother every night. It was always junk--a coke, something impractical but much anticipated. We'd stand at the front window and look for him half hour before he was due home.
On stormy winter day it snowed so deep that the town shut down. Dad barely made it home in his old truck; streets had quickly become impassable. In his haste to beat the storm he'd forgotten our treat.
My sweet dad put on his snow boots and walked back to town and purchased a bag of chips and two cokes. It was dark before he came back, half-frozen but smiling.
Daddy, I'll never forget your love.
Ludwig (Love Finds You in Calico, CA):
Dads are funny, especially mine. He rarely shows emotion other than humor and the occasional burst of anger. In fact, I remember being surprised, once, to hear my dad telling a friend how proud he was of his daughters because it was so unusual for him to talk about anything other than work.
Except for that one time…
My sister, Maggie, and I were about ten years old the first time I saw my dad skip. Since this was slightly before the age of computer games and satellite TV, she and I were playing outside (you know—the way kids used to). A short distance away, my dad dug in the garden, his back to us. Anyway things were pretty quiet, this being the middle of summer and all. I remember being startled by a terrible ruckus that started over our heads and got consistently louder.
“What is that?” Maggie said.
I looked up. Two large birds flew overhead, their wings spread wide to catch the wind as they dipped and circled around one another. I pointed. “It’s those birds.”
“They’re hawks,” Dad said, barely pausing to glance up.
I scratched my head, fascinated by the tango taking place in the sky. “What are they doing?”
“About what?” Maggie asked, tipping her head back, like me, to see.
“Probably over some food,” Dad said, still clawing at the ground. “Close your mouths, girls.”
Shocked that he knew what we were doing without looking, I snapped my mouth closed (and found out later why. I don’t care what the Italians say, bird droppings are not fun and they aren’t lucky.).
“What kind of food do you think they’re fighting over?” I asked, edging sideways so I wasn’t directly under the hawks.
“Seeds, maybe,” Dad said.
In fact, it wasn’t seeds the birds were after. . .it was a garden snake. Slamming from the sky, one of the birds dove straight for a patch of ground not far from where my father worked. Swooping like a bomber, the hawk spread its bony talons, grasped the snake, and then flung itself back into the sky. In less than a moment, both birds had disappeared.
“Wow, that was cool,” Maggie said, her eyes round.
I was slightly less impressed and way more grossed out. I ran both hands over the goosebumps that stood up on my flesh.
And my dad?
Dad made a sound. . .something between a screech and a scream. Jumping to his feet, he hopped, skipped and jumped the many rows out of the garden and into the driveway. Still skipping, Dad said something in Spanish I don’t think I’d be allowed to repeat, even if I knew how to translate it.
I stared at him, too afraid to laugh and too alarmed to cry. “Dad?”
Maggie darted over to him and grabbed his arm. “Did that snake scare you, Dad?”
By the look on her face, I knew she was hoping he’d say yes, and that she found that fact infinitely funny. It took a moment for Dad to calm down and for his feet to stop stomping the stones in our driveway to dust.
Finally, he paused long enough to catch his breath. “What did you say?”
Maggie’s grin broadened. “I asked if that snake scared you?”
His macho restored, Dad inhaled deeply, filling his lungs, and blew the air out, long and slow. “Nah. . .I wasn’t scared.”
“Then how come you were skipping?” I asked, my eyes narrowed.
“A hawk flying down like that to catch a snake is something that doesn’t happen everyday. I’m just glad you girls got to see it,” Dad said.
With that, he clapped the dirt from his hands and turned to go inside, obviously finished working in the garden for the day.
So, Dad wasn’t scared by one measly garden snake.
In fact, he turned out to be quite a nature fanatic. . .enough so
it made him skip.
At least, that’s the way he tells it. (Story
by Elizabeth Ludwig Copyright Elizabeth Ludwig)
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.