Not every dad has Powers

Burt's Eye View

Today my dad celebrates his 82nd birthday, and I think it’s high time that he shared his greatest secret with me — Dad Powers.

When I was kid, I couldn’t wait to grow into Dad Powers. My firstborn filled the crib with howls and giggles more than 28 years ago. Now she’s a fully licensed adult with an impressive array of her very own Mom Powers.

I’m still waiting for my Dad Powers to develop.

My dad could do anything. Still can.

Sometimes, we kids couldn’t get the lawnmower to start. We’d yank and pull and kick and punch. And then we’d do some of the same stuff to the lawnmower. It just wouldn’t start no matter how badly we wanted to mow the lawn.

Dad would step out onto the back porch and roll his eyes at us. Then he’d glare at the lawnmower. The thing would roar to life. So would we.

“Honest, Dad, it wouldn’t work.”

He’d just shake his head and walk back inside where he probably had to get back to his phone call in which he once again had to explain to Superman how to save the world.

I still can’t start the stupid lawnmower no matter how much I yank, pull, kick and punch. On the lawnmower, too. I’ve yet to develop a single, solitary lick of mechanical skill. Oh sure, I possess a pretty mean set of Grandpa Powers, but they mostly only work on Play-Doh. Power tools and tractors and stuff, forget it.

So I trudge across the lawn and borrow my neighbor Jesse, who has three kids and a full set of Dad Powers.

Jesse stands on his back porch and rolls his eyes first at me and then glares at the mower. The mower roars to life. So do I.

If something was broken, we called Dad. When he got done, it might not look pretty, but it worked. When I finish something, it might not look pretty. Working is not an option.

Way back before I became a dad, I drove a 1975 Gremlin. It was one of the first cars that beeped at you if you didn’t wear a seat belt. Mine did one better. It beeped even if you did wear the belt.

I begged Dad to fix it. He figured it was my car, and I should learn something. But I wasn’t a dad yet.

One day, Dad needed to borrow my car. When he came back, the car no longer beeped. Ever again.

Dad Powers. I wish I had them.

Once, Dad and Uncle David, also a dad, overhauled the Mighty Grem. They yanked out more parts from under the hood than possibly could have fit there and spread them all over the lawn. Slowly, they reassembled my poor car.

“Finished,” Dad said.

I looked at the lawn. Six automotive parts still lay on the grass. Big pieces. Little pieces. Important looking pieces.

“What are those?”


“There weren’t any leftovers when you started.”

“It’s fine. Start the car.”

I started the car. It ran. It worked. The car kept going for years even though a good chunk of the engine never made it back onto the car.

Dad Powers. It’s the only explanation.

Some day, Dad might share the secret of Dad Powers. Until then, if something breaks, I know exactly what to do. I pick up the phone and call the birthday boy: “Hello, Dad? Can you drop by and glare at something for me? And stop rolling your eyes.”

Happy birthday, to Dad and his Dad Powers.

— Write Cole at or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.