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In a Class by Himself

The house reeked of mustard because Grandma Kelley had been summoned to make a mustard plaster for daddy's pleurisy. This was wrong, my dad was never sick, he smelled of Old Spice, Wildroot Cream oil and sometimes cigarette smoke. The neighbor next door had recently died and his daughter, my grieving seven year old friend said it could happen to anyone's dad. I was afraid of coming home from school to find a black wreath on the door like at Earlene's. We all breathed a big sigh of relief and chatter picked up when dad's fever broke and grandma announced he was "on the mend."

He was always there, gentle, loving and a model of strength and security. He was dignified and taciturn, never talking unnecessarily and even looked like one of the cowboy heroes from the Saturday matinees. He was a great reader and loved words, no doubt he felt they were too valuable to waste. Others might be a blowhard, braggart or windbag, but never my pop. He said what needed saying and folks listened. I baked him a birthday cake once and he wore a blue smile for that whole day. He smelled of horehound when I'd spent my whole allowance on what I thought was a lot of chocolate drops for so few coins and then couldn't eat the bitter things.

Later, after we moved to the city more than 700 miles away East, he never complained about driving carloads of my friends to sorority meetings on Monday nights. He let us load up the car with scrap metal or old newspapers to cash in for our club's kitty. One friend's dad referred to him as "congenial" and that fit him well.

What was your dad like? This journal for Daughters and Dads is the place to write it all down. Father's Day comes once a year, but dads are in our hearts year-round. Write it all down. Another memory: When going through my husband's dad's stuff after he died, they found the name bracelet his baby and only child was given to wear at birth. The one made of little beads and letter beads.

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