Father's Day is one of those days of poignant introspection, nostalgia - and humongous belly laughs, natch. At least in our neck of the woods. Because this is the day, more than any other, on which we reflect on all that our fathers truly mean to us - and the life lessons they have imparted, not to mention the hilarity often born of that wisdom.
I don't really mention my father a lot in this space. It's not because I don't want to; it's because, well, frankly, he'll kill me.
See, my dad is a very private, unassuming guy. He likes to fly under the radar. That doesn't mean, by any stretch of the imagination, mind you, that he's some shrinking violet. Quite the contrary. My dad is a man's man. He's tough, amazingly strong and true to his convictions. You will always know where you stand with my dad - sometimes whether you want to or not.
The truth is, my pop is the best. He was a strict disciplinarian whilst my siblings and I were growing up, but if anyone ever so much as looked at one of us sideways, we always knew Dad would flatten them into crepes before they could say boo.
But the man loves to laugh - and loves to hear the sound of family sitting around the table laughing - and eating, of course; we are Italian, after all.
So, as my sister, brother and I were reminiscing about all the Dadisms in our lives, I thought I'd share some of the best stuff he's taught us. Here's a summary of Fred's Rules:
1. Family and faith before everything else. Period. Go to church and always, always defend your own.
2. You're no better than anybody else in this world but you're certainly no worse - be proud of yourself and your heritage.
3. Be honest and owe nothing to anyone ever. (A caveat to the latter part of the rule: If you can't afford it, you don't need it.)
4. Conduct yourself respectfully and live your life in a way that allows you sleep peacefully every night and look yourself in the mirror.
5. You can do anything you set your mind to do, darn it! So stop thinking about it - go do it!
6. Education is never wasted - you will finish school and you will be self-sufficient.
7. You will vote in every election, every time. America is the greatest country on earth and you will be proud and humbled to be part of the American democratic process because it's imperfect but it's still the best one on earth.
8. If you're too sick to go to school or church, don't even think about stepping outside this house.
9. Be home on time. Or sooner, if you know what's good for you.
10. Life is short; be happy!
And, arguably my favorite piece of Pop's advice? "If you can't laugh at yourself, you might as well give it up!" True that, Dad.
Today, I want to thank him, as well as: my son's amazing father and the love of my life, my husband, Kerry; my father-in-law Don, a.k.a. my go-to guy on matters related to the Cleveland Indians and boating; and my brother-in-law Kevin, who is not only a tremendous father to my niece and nephew, but also a wonderful godfather to my Kyle.
Also, a quick thank you to the other "fathers" who have meant much to me over the years: the late Rev. Francis Snock, pastor of my childhood church; the Rev. Monsignor Peter Polando, who became pastor of that same parish and is very dear to my heart, the Rev. Monsignor David Rhoades, my current parish pastor; my very sweet and dear pal (and my church's associate pastor) Father Christopher Cicero; and my longtime close friend the Rev. David Joachim.
Sorta makes sense to thank the heavenly Father, too, (best for last and all that) for all of the above!
Thanks, guys. Happy Father's Day!
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her with nice comments about your dads at firstname.lastname@example.org.