The Picayune Magazine and DailyTrib.com staff shared thoughts, memories, and dad-related stories in honor of Father’s Day, which is Sunday, June 16. Maybe a few will stir memories of your dad or the lessons he taught you.
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JENNIFER FIERRO: FACING ADVERSITY
My dad, Arthur Fierro Sr., taught me many important values growing up: the importance of keeping my word, talking TO people instead of ABOUT them, and how not to rely on anyone else to take care of me (except him). This year, he taught me the value of embracing change.
Recently, my dad was in the hospital and then a rehabilitation center after a partial leg amputation. The surgery was especially difficult for a man who played football and baseball all his life and still plays golf with family members and friends.
But in the true spirit of athletes, my dad demonstrated the core lesson of sports: never give up.
Shortly after he had his surgery, he began to learn to move on one leg using a walker with someone holding a belt to make sure he didn’t fall down. When that person offered too much resistance or wouldn’t let him try on his own, Dad stopped and turned to say, “Let me do it.”
At the rehab facility, Dad attacked his physical therapy with gusto and renewed energy. He learned how to balance on one leg to shave, how to prepare food for himself without assistance, how to get in and out of the tub to bathe, and all sorts of other helpful techniques most of us take for granted. His physical therapists called him a rock star.
I’ve told my dad and others in conversation what I’m about to write now, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart: I couldn’t be more proud of my dad and the example he continues to set for his family. Few people could turn a life-altering event into a better way of life, but, like he’s done all his life, my dad keeps teaching me life lessons that last.
MANDI GOLDSMITH: PHONING IT IN
It was 1985, and I was almost 13. My church youth group was headed to Disney World in Florida. We were gathered in the church parking lot, loading our suitcases, and getting ready for the long road trip.
Even though I was just entering my teenage years, I was already the typical teen who loved talking on the phone with my friends. It was what teens did then, as they do now, but this was before cell and smartphones: Our phones were attached to the wall in our homes.
Well, as I’m getting into the church van, my dad, Roger Long, comes running across the parking lot yelling, “Mandi! Mandi! You forgot something!”
In his hand, my dad was holding the unplugged phone from our house. I could have died as I saw him coming across the parking lot with that phone and yelling my name for all the others to hear.
But I didn’t.
At the time, it was embarrassing, but I certainly think it’s funny now.
STACEE HOPKINS: DEFINING DAD
When Stacee Hopkins met Buster, she was a single mom of two girls, the youngest just 15 months old. But Buster didn’t see them as “Stacee’s daughters” or even his step-daughters. To Buster, they were his girls. His love didn’t — and doesn’t — have any barriers or conditions.
“He stepped in as if they were none other than his blood,” Stacee said.
The Hopkins family set down roots, deep ones firmly planted by Buster and Stacee. The family grew in numbers and love.
“We now have four beautiful daughters and two amazing grandsons,” Stacee said.
And Buster, well, he’s in there helping raise every one of them.
“He’s taught them how to fish, hunt, and love unconditionally,” she said.
It goes to show that not all real dads — or moms, for that matter — share DNA with their children.
“Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad,” Stacee said.
And Buster’s definitely a dad.
“My husband is just like a Judds’ song, soft and kind when the kids are crying and hard as steel when they’ve done wrong.”
DONALD CAWOOD: CAMPING MEMORIES
Donald Cawood’s dad raised three Eagle Scouts. Reaching the pinnacle of the ranks is quite an accomplishment, taking time and commitment from both the Scout and his parents.
As Carl Cawood’s three boys — eldest Mike, middle son Richard, and youngest Donald — made their way up the ranks, he was there. He served as a Scoutmaster and went on many camping trips with the three.
“Camping was time with him,” Donald said. “It was just us boys.”
Growing up in California, the camping trips took them to places such as the High Sierras and Lake Del Valle.
Donald’s dad taught his sons how to set up tents — the old canvas ones that were sometimes like a 1,000-piece puzzle.
“It’s not like the tents today,” Donald said. “We had to drive the tent stakes into the ground, all that stuff.
“And you learned, you don’t touch the side of the tent,” he added, referring to those mornings when the dew or moisture hung in the air and settled on the tent. A wayward touch triggered an instant condensation-ladened shower on top of groggy Scouts.
While Donald enjoyed camping, it was having his dad there on so many of those trips that made it even better.
JENNIFER GREENWELL: GOING JOGGING
Thinking about my dad makes me smile, he just does. What comes to mind when I think about my early years with my dad, John Kirby Allen IV, are those times he would load our family into our pickup truck and head to the nearby junior high track to jog.
We would all get into the act.
I don’t remember actually running but just being there because my father enjoyed jogging. He thought we would all benefit from it. Afterwards, we stopped at the 7-11 on the way home and enjoyed an RC in a glass bottle, complete with, you guessed it, peanuts!
I think it must’ve been the memories I have of my dad jogging most days after he came home from work that inspired me to get into the sport, although it is now called running.
I have been running most days for almost 20 years. I think I probably get out of it what he did: a moment to think and clear the mind, a time to go inside your own thoughts and just think and breathe — and to run, of course! Anyway, I value this gift he has passed on to me, although, you know, I don’t even think he knows he was my inspiration.
I’ll have to tell him he is.
BEN SHIELDS: ONE FAST FATHER
My dad, Bill Shields, had just taught me how to ride a bike. The house I grew up in was located in the middle of a hill in Horseshoe Bay, so the street was very steep.
Dad told me to walk my bike up to the top where it was flat and to practice riding up there. He warned me: “Don’t come down that hill. I will be up there in a minute.”
I was up there a couple of minutes, and I started feeling brave. I told myself, “I’m going to do it; I’m going down this hill.” About 5 yards down, I knew this was a bad idea. I knew I couldn’t brake going this fast. I started yelling and screaming.
My dad had gone into the garage. He heard the racket and saw what was happening. He sprinted out of the garage and got to me as I was passing the house. I had never seen him move so fast in my life. He had to tackle me off my bike.
If he hadn’t caught me, I would have ended up at the bottom of the hill in a ditch. My dad saved me.
From that day forward, I understood that when my father told me something, there was a reason he was telling me, and I needed to listen.