Father's Day is painful now. Ron lost his father in 1995, and I lost mine in 1999. Nevertheless, those of us who no longer have our dads are shotgunned with all the same Father's Day advertising and wishes as everyone else. I wish there would be even a little emphasis on remembering our fathers with love and respect. To that end, I'll tell you a little about my dad.
John Haropulos was a WWII veteran, who saw action on Okinawa. He didn't talk about it much, but I sensed that it shaped his appreciation of home and family. Dad grew up in Chicago, and I learned to share his love of the city - cheering for the Bears and the Cubs, going to Northwestern University where Dad studied Electrical Engineering, and eventually living about a mile from where he and his family lived (on Belmont).
After the war, Dad and Mom eloped in 1950, and shortly thereafter he finished his college degree at the University of New Hampshire. They lived in New York City less than a year, before Dad obtained a government job in the DC area. Three daughters (I'm #2) and a son were all raised in suburban Maryland. All of us got good public school educations and the opportunity to go to college.
Dad was an impressive figure. I used to describe him to friends as "6 foot 2 with a mustache". We were taught to think in a disciplined way and to use our brains to figure things out. (In fact it was demanded of us.)
I'm thankful that we were able to finance a trip to Hawaii for Mom and Dad in the 80's. Dad had a chance to show Mom where he was stationed at the end of the war. Hilton came through and upgraded them into a suite with a view of Diamondhead. I also fondly remember the trip Ron and I took with them to Arizona to see the Cubs in Spring Training.
Dad taught me how to throw and catch a football and a baseball, and how to swing a golf club. He paid for summer camp, swimming, hula, and piano lessons. He yelled at me when I did something stupid, and comforted me when I skinned a knee. We played wiffle ball in the back yard. Saturday nights, he grilled burgers or steaks. We all piled into a car for summer vacations, and Dad drove us to New Hampshire. When he got tired, he would sing silly songs. I remember him pulling over to the side of the road to pick wildflowers flowers for Mom. We loved it when Dad would play old 78 records and he and Mom would dance in the living room. Dad mowed the lawn, fixed the car, and built things. At the end of the day, he would often come upstairs to tuck us in at night and check the bed for creepy-crawlies. When Ron and I married in 1991, Dad placed our wedding crowns on our heads, and danced at our reception. He was the best father I can imagine.
So as Father's Day approaches, the best thing my old friends could say to me is, "I remember your father". Otherwise, a hug would be good.