Remembering Our Fathers

Remembering my father and the impact he had on my life brings a smile to my face. My father was a simple man who took pleasure in the simple things in life. He loved to read, especially history, and he shared that love of books with me by taking me to the library and reading to me at night.

My dad worked hard to support his mother and siblings when his own father was unable to work due to an illness. When he had his own family, my dad still worked hard, putting in long days at the factory where he was a tool and dye maker.

I remember Sundays during the summer when my mother would cook him up a special dinner and take it to him so that he could have a hot meal for his break. I would ride with her to deliver it, and he was always appreciative.

When I got married, I remember my dad walking me down the aisle. He had on his only suit that he wore to all solemn and festive occasions, whether a wedding or a funeral, and he was shaking so hard I wasn’t sure if he would make it to the altar to give me away! He was a shy man, and he would rather not have had all those eyes on him that day.

I miss my father, and I wish that he were still alive so that I could honor him this Father’s Day.

The history of the making of Father’s Day is an interesting affair. It only became a national holiday in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation declaring the third Sunday in June to be Father’s Day. This was fifty-eight years after Mother’s Day had been made a national holiday (in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson).

The earliest known celebration of a Father’s Day was in West Virginia in 1908, shortly after 362 men died in a mining accident, but it was a one-time, local commemoration. The following year, Sonora Smart Dodd—who was raised with her 5 siblings by her widowed father—campaigned in the state of Washington for a holiday to honor all fathers. Her efforts were successful, and Washington celebrated the first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.

After that, the push began to declare a national day to recognize fathers. However, four wars, the Great Depression, and fear of commercialism all delayed the process. It’s curious to note that there was also a general feeling among men that it was too sentimental (and therefore not masculine) for men to honor their fathers in the same way that that they honored their mothers. For a long time, this fear of sentimentality also prevented the declaration of a national father’s day.

Today, we embrace honoring our fathers who have been a powerful influence in our lives. When I was very young, I adored my father. He spent time reading to us, building sandcastles, and throwing endless baseballs for us to catch. Besides playing with me, my father exemplified how to lead my life productively and ethically. If we do not have such examples, how do we learn? There is a wonderful true story from the animal kingdom that illustrates this idea for me, and I’d like to share it with you:

A group of scientists went to Africa to study a herd of unruly elephants who were running wild, knocking down trees, and destroying their environment. The scientists watched them through long-range cameras and were puzzled by their actions. They had studied other groups of elephants before and had not seen this type of behavior.

As they watched, they realized that these elephants were all young, teen-aged elephants. Apparently, poachers had come in and destroyed all the adult male elephants for their ivory. The scientists hypothesized that with no adult influence, the young elephants didn’t know how to behave properly. They wondered what would happen if they brought in adult males as models for the youngsters, so they decided to ship in some adult males and release them into the herd of young elephants and observe their interaction.

At first nothing happened, and the wild behavior continued. The adult males would raise their trunks and flap their ears. Then, they would make loud noises when they were annoyed with the behavior of the young teens. Time passed. Watching the older male elephants modeling proper behavior, the younger males began to settle down. Eventually their wild antics dropped away, and they became mannerly elephants.

We all need role models. It is how we learn, and our first teachers are our parents. While honoring our fathers on Father’s Day, we can show our gratitude by extending to them the same care and thoughtfulness.

My father loved to eat. He would always thank my mother after each meal. The adage, “the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” was certainly true in my father’s case! If he were alive today, I would honor him by cooking a wonderful meal with some of his favorite foods.

You, too, can cook your dad a delicious meal to show him how much you love him. Think hearty food, spicy baked goods, and delicious sides to round out the meal.

If you need inspiration, check out these recipes from the Veggie Fest Chicago website.

Happy Father’s Day to all our fathers!

-Mary Pomerantz for the Veggie Fest Team

Traditional American Fare

Stuffed Portobello, Cauliflower Hash, Brown Gravy

A Mexican Fiesta

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