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I'm not sure I can respond adequately to your prompt, but two stories do come to mind. Thirty or so years ago I called home to tell them I was bringing my dog to bury her there. I don't remember my Dad saying much, but he met me with two shovels.

A much older story happened before I was born. Dad, who worked multiple jobs six days a week was asked to dig a big hole for a neighbor's septic tank. It took up his Sunday, and the pay was $10. When Mom asked him if he resented it, he replied that the was thankful for the opportunity.

I think of him often. And fairly often, when I do, I recall the lyrics to an old song. "At the bottom of this mountain lies a big, big man."

Thank you for your beautiful post.

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Oof, that one got me. I have a similar story; when my beloved first cat died, I drove her body home so I could bury her in my childhood yard with all of our other pets (dear God that place was a graveyard). When I got there, my dad had built a beautiful pine box for her and had had my little brother dig a huge hole. (My brother still bitches about how big that hole was and how hard it was to dig and how my dad just kept yelling at him to hurry up because I could be there any minute). That's love. :)

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

My dad was an artist with his studio in our basement. The smell of linseed oil, turpentine and good cigars, even now, 32 years after his passing brings back a rush of happiness and feelings of contentment. He covered two walls of his studio with canvas and bought me oil paints and artist materials and let me cover the walls with my childish creations. When his friends or clients showed up he would boast more about my talent than his own. His love and support for me helped to make me a confident and strong woman. And I’ve missed him dearly for 32-years.

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I love this more than words can express.

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

What a beautiful tribute to your dad. It brought tears to my eyes.

Mine is gone now, too, and I have no beautiful, cherished memories about him like you do of your dad. I do, however, know that my son will have memories of *his* dad that are just like yours, and that’s enough for me. ♥️

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

My dad was actually my step-dad since the age of 2. He was hilarious. He was a big man, a Southern Baptist drill sergeant in the marines who played football for them and then was drafted by the New England Patriots for a couple years, so you’d think I was raised strict beyond words! And yes he was sure to teach me to love God and have passion for right and wrong, but he was also fun loving, always looking for laughter and trying to make us laugh. People thought he was hilarious. He had his flaws but didn’t try to excuse them, only woke up the next day to try and be a better man and made sure we witnessed that effort. He smoked a pipe and now that smell of those wonderful aromas reminds me of him. I haven’t smelled it in years and I don’t know where to go to get a whiff. 🤣 Does anyone smoke pipes these days?

He taught me to play poker when I was only 7 and often he took me with him to poker games with his union buddies, where I was spoiled but also feared for my prowess of play. Poker was a family game night weekly in our house with chips and big bowls of popcorn while my dad would openly cheat with amusement to make us laugh. He taught me to play football in our big farm yard when I was only 10 years old. I was one of the few girls in gym that could both throw and catch like the boys did. He used to tease us ruthlessly and it was always so funny. One time we didn’t want him to go to work and we climbed on the hood of the car. He laughed and told us to hand on. We grabbed the hood by the wipers and he proceeded to do partial wheelies on the gravel road while we squealed in delight. He of course was not overly careless in this but he also wasn’t a bubble-wrap-your-kids dad.

He worked two jobs to provide a roof over our head, and when he was laid off he worked for the farmer whose land we lived on. He was the hardest working man the farmer ever met, so when we were one day away from moving to another state because of my dad not having work, filling the moving van, the farmer showed up and offered my dad a house on one of his plots to live in rent-free, so long as dad worked for him whenever he was laid off. And boy did my dad work his tail off for that farmer, with joy and purpose. Because of this I got a great education and was able to go to college and get a STEM degree. My life is good because of my hard working dad and a farmer with a heart of gold who was also someone else’s dad.

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I am covered in chills and have the stupidest smile plastered on my face after reading this. I played poker with my dad as well… And with my own kids just because. We are so lucky, back in my day I didn’t know a lot of dads who spent time with their kids the way mine did. It was the best gift he could have ever given me.

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Jun 17Liked by Jenna McCarthy

That's such a great story about family being of the heart, not of the blood. And yes, I know two pipe smokers under the age of fifty, one of whom is a great Dad and the other a great husband and mentor.

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

I’m not crying, ok, maybe a little. Thanks for sharing, my Dad could fix anything and he was a diesel mechanic and worked on trains at Union Carbide. He always had the scent of grease and oil. He died suddenly one month before my wedding, I will always remember walking myself down the aisle to a man who is so much like my dad, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Now my husband will attempt to fix anything, but he is kind and funny, just like Dad.

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😭💕

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Jenna you are a hidden gem of a gal...

and I too now miss your dad - and mine.

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

I credit my grandfather and father for me and my extended family holding strong and not getting the shots. They showed us how to think for ourselves, be strong, have faith and have fun. Miss my Paw Paw and Daddy so much. 😪❤

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When my parents got married, they did not have their own home, but did have five acres of land my grandparents gave them as a wedding gift. My grandfather had expertise building houses and agreed to teach my Dad how it was done. They both had full-time jobs, so building the house was a weekend project. Dad would have been around 22 years old, and as such was energetic and focused. The newlyweds moved in with my grandparents and sketched out a set of simple plans.

My grandfather unexpectedly died before they had made much progress, leaving Dad to figure out the rest. Dad would go around to new housing projects to observe and ask questions. On weekends, family friends and relatives would appear with hammers and work alongside him. When we moved in, I was barely walking. Grandma watched me during the move so I wouldn't plunge an errant nail into our cat. We lived in the house for the next 12 or or so years. It was a memorable house because it had poished hardwood floors I could "skate" on in my socks.

After my parents had both died, I went by the old house, parked in front of it, and imagined the daunting task of building a house from scratch with minimal knowledge of necessary details. At some point Dad had added an entire wing and a second story. It looked larger than I remembered. The owner noticed me and came out the front door. I exited the car, introduced myself, and told her I'd grown up in her house. She invited me inside to look at it. Not much had changed. The bathroom still had the original wallpaper, now so retro it had become fashionable again. The original turquoise tile covered the kitchen counter tops. The owners had moved the house to property they owned. I was oddly comforted by the fact that it was still there, although my parents were gone.

"This house is so well built," the owner said. "We never have had any trouble with it. Do you remember who built it?"

"That would be my Dad," I told her, barely believing this. He and my mother later remodeled a 100-year-old house, refinished antiques, built furniture, and even taught me how to install my own ceiling fan. (It was over my bed, and for a month I slept uneasily, imagining it falling and crushing my right hand, the one I needed to install ceiling fans.)

Dad gave me the inclination to approach new tasks with the assurance that I could figure it out, and through hard work would get it done. I know he must have doubted himself as he installed electrical wiring and plumbing for the first time. The uncertainty never stopped him from tackling the job, never losing sight of his goal. So many times I have plunged into a project, convinced I would fail. But Dad modeled this aphorism well: We don't really know what we can do until we try.

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I am so weepy reading all of these stories. I hope there are some young dads reading them and realizing how much EVERYTHING they do and are gets passed down and remembered. XOXO

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Thank you, Jenna, for your lovely tribute to your beautiful Dad. Brought tears to my eyes.

Wow. I didn’t think I had any more tears left in me in relation to MY Dad but I was wrong. I don’t have that many positive memories of him – he was such a wounded puppy. He did take joy, however, from his writing and from our family dog and cat. I can still see him loving on our beloved cat, Sophie, who would jump on his lap whenever and wherever! he sat down.

He (and Mom) also gave us the gift of living their lives without racial or religious bigotry. And even though he suffered from depression and anxiety he never abandoned his family, and for that I’m very grateful. Thank you, Dad. God bless you.

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Hugs, friend. 💕

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Thank you so much, dear Jenna. Hugs and love to you.

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Jun 17Liked by Jenna McCarthy

Being wounded and carrying on regardless is heroic (and definitely under-rated in most of today's society). God bless.

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A beautiful comment, Iris. You are wise. God bless YOU.

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

This post had me crying my eyes out. My dad was my also my hero and my protector. He wasn't tall like your dad. He was only 5'8" and quite slight - lean and wiry. But the most handsome man I have ever seen in my opinion, and my protector. He designed and built a caravan (trailer) for us to live in because we couldn't afford a house. He built us a little boat using old newspapers spread over wooden stringers and fibre glass. That boat never sank and gave us endless hours of joy paddling around on the crocodile infested Hunyani River. He taught my little brother to respect me simply because I was a girl, and he treated me like a lady, standing up when I entered the room, or tipping his hat to me. I still have wooden wine glasses he made on his lathe, as well as bowls and pestle and mortar. And yes, I still miss him

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author

What a beautiful tribute to an incredible father. 😭

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Jun 17Liked by Jenna McCarthy

That's really lovely! He sounds really brave.

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

This one hits home. Lost my dad 37 years ago (I was 18) and the smell of sawdust makes me think of him too. He wasn’t a builder, but a plumber. His close circle of friends included the excavator, builder, tiler, electrician, etc and together they built homes throughout my hometown.

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

Thank you, Jenna, for sharing your precious memories of your loving dad with us in such a poignant manner. Your writing skills were admirable back when you penned this, too. I can smell the sawdust.

I miss being able to call my dad to ask him how to prepare this or that cut of meat; he was always the consummate chef even though, or maybe because, he came from very humble beginnings. I've developed my cooking skills a fair amount since he's been gone. He'd be proud, I think. I wish I could have him over for dinner.

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😭😭😭 I can’t tell you how many times I do or fix or build something and think, “dad would be so proud!” My oldest was only a few weeks old when he died, and it KILLS me that he didn’t get to know either of my girls. He would have adored them.💕

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Lovely tribute to your Dad, Jenna. I have an idea about why he liked it best of all the things you wrote before he passed away. What I miss most about my Dad are his outrageous puns. He cracked a pun at dinner back in 1968 and I still recall it to this day. Plus one of my Mom's stories about how she was driving home from a party back when they were a very young married couple. My Dad had his eyes closed, leaning back in the passenger seat. They drove past Moorpark, a big main drag in the San Fernando Valley in the LA area. My Dad remarked, "Moorpark spelled backwards is kraproom." I wonder how my Mom keep control of the car when she obviously must have been laughing so hard.

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😊🤣

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

I rode standing on the seat by my Papa. He drove, I asked questions...lot's of questions. He answered all of them. I had him for 54 years. He taught me about God and Jesus, and being adad; about compassion, solving problems and working hard; about the importance of family, unconditional love and how to get to Red River, New Mexico. Happy Father's Day!

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Now that you mention it, my parents took us to Red River, too, when I was a teenager. They rented a cabin and played cards with their friends at night. Great memories! I've been planning to go back there -- once the present madness has passed. I probably won't go horseback riding again, though. I had to be rescued when my horse stood in the middle of a stream and refused to go another step. That's how I found a nice group to hang with while I was there, evading the card games. No more aspirations of becoming the next Dale Evans, though.

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

Based on your commentary, Mark has described your Dad: To be great, truly great, you have to be the kind of person who makes the others around you great.

Mark Twain

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Jun 16Liked by Jenna McCarthy

What a great post, Jenna!

My dad saw some serious history during his life, including the Great Depression and landing at Normandy the next day to clean up the beach and bring supplies to the soldiers. Regardless, he was a jolly joker to his last day. I took him to a doctor appointment where the nurse asked him to step on the scale, to which he replied, “should I take my teeth out”? 😂 Laughed my head off.

A few months later he died in the best way possible, in his easy chair watching the Price is Right. Happy Father’s Day💝

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I love this!😊💕

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