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My View: Dads' most coveted gift is presence of family

By Judith Whitehead

Father’s Day follows Mother’s Day and somehow always seems to take a back seat. We seem to spend much more time and money celebrating our mothers than we do our fathers.

In our early Father’s Day celebrations as young adults we would always have a large family picnic, a potluck in which everyone brought their signature dishes and the families would gather in a park and trade stories.

In those years I just took those celebrations for granted. When we are young, we have the false sense that our parents will live on forever. Then the years pass quickly and we soon realize that time is fleeting.

In recent years we would gather our food and celebration items and bring it to the nursing home where my dad resided.

My dad, the last of our parents to pass away, was a fixture in our family, a rock that always stood for strength and stamina to us. Dad was always there.

In his later years he became a shadow of himself. Once a social, friendly and chatty man who loved to talk to anyone and everyone, he slowly became a quiet and stoic person who did not share his thoughts as he once did. We could tell when he was thinking about something and we knew when he was happy or sad but in his super senior years he became silent. God was good to him and he passed away quietly in his sleep.

Judith Whitehead.

When we are growing up we spend time trying to find the perfect gift to give our dads for Father’s Day. The old favorites come to mind, like a shirt, tie or golf club, but when it comes right down to it, all Dad really enjoyed the most and wanted was for all of us to gather and celebrate with him.

One of his last Father’s Day cakes was decorated with a plastic golf cart that he got the biggest kick out of. He loved to play at golf in his younger days and gleaned such joy looking at his little cart long after Father’s Day was over.

Even in his later years he would spend hours watching golf on television. It was the simple things that brought joy to him in his 90s. My dad worked very hard in his working years to provide for his family and future years.

After my mom passed away many years before him, money meant nothing to him any longer. His priorities then became friendship, and simple pleasures such as sharing a cup of coffee or a meal with friends, being entertained by a musical show or movie and simply just being. No longer was saving money a goal and possessions meant little to him any longer. Time spent enjoying life was his priority.

My dad lived a good, healthy and long life. He passed away peacefully at age 95 and joined his beloved bride of over 50 years.

So as Father’s Day approaches, I will reminisce about the many joyful years spent celebrating my dad and celebrate with my family and husband because he is a special dad to our children. Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts of all.

Having a family, whether it is made up of friends or family, is a privilege and a joy. We have all realized that time and enjoyment on any holiday is the best gift of all.

Make sure you give the gift of time and spend less effort shopping for the perfect gift and more time enjoying the company of your dad this year.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, misses her dad, who lived to 95.

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