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Mike the Mailman: Memories Matter Most for this Dad on Father's Day

by on June 17, 2012 6:50 AM

My favorite car is a 1953 MG TD (metallic grey, to be specific). Will I ever own one? Probably not, but it's fun to entertain the thought every so often.

My favorite cookies are homemade oatmeal raisin, I probably get to treat my taste buds every other month or so with some of these cookies.

My favorite job? Being a dad. Luckily, I had a great role model in my dad, Dean-Dean, as many lovingly referred to him as. Being a great dad is a role with big shoes to fill ... and I say that knowing that I wear a size 13.

Leading up to Father's Day, my daughters were searching for clues as to what little gift they can get me, and even if they had all the money in the world, I'd rather a lovely card from them, expressing that I've impacted their lives for the better, rather than that MG dream car (maybe they could bake me some oatmeal raisin cookies next time they're in town for a visit).

In the past, I've received everything from a couple lucky scratch off lotto tickets to Phillies baseball tickets, but my favorite Father's Day gift is opening their cards that they sent to me. I know that I am biased on the 'snail mail' thing, but I love looking in our mailbox and seeing a personally addressed card from one of my girls with a love forever stamp up in the top right hand corner and usually some freehand doodling on the other side.

From my previous column, you know that my family and I recently attended a wedding in Maryland over Memorial Day weekend, and one of my favorite parts of the reception was when the DJ invited all of the fathers and their daughters to have a special go around on the dance floor.

I thought how lucky I am to get to share this dance with both Marykate and Michaela. Everyone says it, but there really is no 'job' that compares to being a parent. To deal with the surprises and rewards, stresses and inside jokes, it has been a wild ride.

It's crazy to think that I've improvised my role as a dad for over 32 years, and I wouldn't have been able to navigate at all without the love and guidance that my wonderful wife, Katie, has offered. From boyfriends to bad hair days, tennis matches and dance recitals, Katie and I have been our daughters No. 1 fans.

As much fun as every stage of our daughter's growing up has been, I think I have a new favorite time, and that is right now.

To see both Marykate and Michaela embracing adulthood, like the intelligent, witty, beautiful, kind women they have become is more of a present than any father could ask for. As much fun was to have sleepless nights with them as babies, teach them how to ride bikes and drive, and be in attendance for their high school, college and even master degree graduations, to see them at the wedding dancing the night away made my heart overwhelmingly happy.

I asked them recently what some of their favorite childhood memories included and both said, without hesitation, popsicle stick races. I'm not even sure how we even came up with this adventure but right after a summer storm would pass (to get the girls not to bed so scared of them) we would each have a designated popsicle stick (mine had a blue marking on it, Marykate's had a purple one and Michaela's was green), and we would go out by the curb (as we lived on a slight hill) and put the sticks in the rain run-off against the curb.

We would then follow the sticks all the way down Nimitz Avenue and see which stick would make it to the bottom first and win. Another fun memory they mentioned was our family cat, Chester and his nine lives. We got this cat from a neighbor's cat's litter. Now I wasn't onboard at first with the pet idea, but was out numbered 3 to 1.

Chester was an indoor/outdoor cat that I tolerated until one day he didn't come back ... a week and a half later (after a huge blizzard) Katie found Chester on a neighboring street, dead against the curb. We were devastated and chose to cremate him. No sooner did we do so, that Chester returned to our back porch, with a broken hip. That darn cat ended up being a part of our family for another 16 years.

To this day, we aren't sure of whose cat we cremated but take comfort that someone's beloved pet was well laid to rest in our backyard.

My one daughter's favorite quote is, "No day ends if it makes a memory." I couldn't agree more. So for those of you who aren't planning on purchasing a car for your dad this year for Father's Day, maybe take a minute to discuss with you father one of your favorite memories you have of him.

Believe me, that will mean more to him than any material possession, and will definitely last much longer.

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Mike (The Mailman) Herr gives his stamp of approval to all visitors Monday through Friday at the University Park post office in the ground floor of McAllister Building, adjacent to the HUB. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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