Dad’s love, time are best gifts

Father’s Day is here. It’s the high holy day of Old Spice, highly-marketed power tools and backyard barbeques. All are aimed at delighting and honoring Dear Old Dad.

As a proud father and grandfather, I naturally love Father’s Day. Who wouldn’t?

I also think deeply about my own dad, who died in 1991, when he was 68 and I was 38. He never offered much advice, but I learned from the things he said and did. He lives with me every minute, and he always will.

For example:

• “I don’t care what you do for a living, as long as it’s something you enjoy,” he once said. “Going to a job you don’t enjoy is like going to jail every morning.” That was the extent of his career counseling, but he surely was right. Fortunately, I didn’t want to write poetry or decipher ancient Sumerian tablets. Newspaper reporting was fun, educational and undeniably important. No heavy lifting, an air-conditioned office, and weekly paychecks! I’m in!

• “Don’t ever get into a fight over a woman. Let her decide for herself who she wants to be with,” was Dad’s other tidbit. Since I inherited my physique from a long line of consumptive Irish peasants, I stayed calm and kept my teeth. Fortunately, Laurie always wanted to be with me.

• Negative role models are important. My Dad smoked Camels constantly and drank way too much. Years of watching him made an impression on me. I’ve never smoked or taken a drink. Never. Ever.

• Dad served in the Army during World War II, and was once commander of American Legion Post 210, but he was never among the “America — Love It or Leave It!” set so common in the 1960s. When a Commercial-News reporter stopped him for a man-on-the-street interview, he said he was against sending troops to fight in Vietnam. “The French tried it, and lost,” he said. When it came to his opinions, Dad didn’t care what anybody thought.

• My dad’s interest in history rubbed off on me. I was enchanted by his stories of the Danville area in the 1920s and 1930s, with its streetcars, miners, cigar stores and Civil War veterans living out their last days at the Soldiers Home. Before I was in the first grade, I was reading to him. Later, he bought me books about Indians, World War II, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. I read them to him, too.

• Mark Twain once said: “We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them, but the most precious gift — our personal association, which means so much to them — we give grudgingly.”

Not so with Frank C. “Bud” Cullen. He was not a model son, or husband, or father but he lavished his time, his attention, and his love upon me. Those are gifts that even death cannot take away.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Danville native Kevin Cullen is a former Commercial-News reporter. Reach him at irishhiker@aol.com.

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