Defining 'Dad' up to beholder as fathers get day of tribute

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in 7 years.” — Mark Twain

Fatherhood is ...

That sentence could be completed in a multitude of ways. Ask a dozen people to fill in that blank, and the likely result is a dozen different replies.

As we approach Father’s Day this Sunday, we reflect on the traits and qualities we associate with those being honored by the occasion.

While each father is unique, the experience of parenting elicits an array of newfound skills and formerly suppressed emotions and vulnerabilities that find common resonance.

Wisdom, as Twain aptly captures in the quote above, is one of those “old man” gifts that is often appreciated only after juvenile hubris has relaxed its grip. (“Guess that wisdom doesn’t extend to how to empty the dishwasher,” moms may reply).

A father’s value as projected by popular media image has certainly shifted over the generations — consider TV’s paternal evolution from “Father Knows Best” to “The Simpsons” — but we presume everyone is acquainted with honorable inhabitors of the role.

Here are a few other remarks on fatherhood from some familiar and not-so-familiar names.

• “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” — Sigmund Freud

• “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.” — Jim Valvano

• “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they’re always watching you.” — Robert Fulghum

• “The greatest mark of a father is how he treats his children when no one is looking.” — Dan Pearce

• “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” — Billy Graham

• “Fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man.” — Frank Pittman

• “Every father should remember one day his son will follow his example, not his advice.” — Charles Kettering

Each week at The Hinsdalean we aim to find activities to include under the “Family Fun” category of our Out & About listing. In today’s issue you can find information on Hinsdale Public Library’s weekly Wednesday Storytime in Burns Field; a Father’s Day Fishing with Dad event this Sunday at Herrick Park in Wheaton; and Party on the Patio Wednesday, June 21, at The Community House featuring Zumba, bubble art and a BYO picnic on the lawn (see Pages 16 & 18 for details).

Time together, whether a thrill or just chill, is always special.

So let’s review the adjectives that have been presented here: wise, protective, supportive, integrity-led, strong, generous with time, nurturing, involved, responsible, committed.

Wonderful qualities, all. No list seems complete, however, when voicing that singular term of endearment — Dad.

Editors note: This is an updated version of an editorial that ran in The Hinsdalean in 2017.