Dear Dad,

It’s been 35 years since I talked to you. Every day, I still do the things you taught me as a boy, from picking up the toilet seat first thing in the morning to how to shave my face. To this day I remember your step-by-step instructions on how to glide the razor across my face. Without you, I would never have learned to tie my own shoelaces or a double Windsor knot. By watching you, I knew how to dress for school, for play, and for church on Sunday. You taught me how to make a pot of coffee in the morning and how to cook. You explained what to look for under the hood of a car and when I needed new tires. You told me what I could fix myself or when it needed to be replaced.

I saw how you checked yourself before leaving the house for work: wallet, money, Timex watch, and handkerchief. And off you went to drive a truck for 10 hours. I knew that after pushing a truck around all day, you were tired at night. So we did not play baseball or football, but that’s what my friends were for. You were home every night so we could talk, and you would tell me about your day and teach me the most important things: never to rat on anyone, look the other way, and if something did not feel right, just walk away. Boy, did that one save my butt plenty of times.

I remember that you told me: “If you want to smoke, don’t do it behind my back. I will buy your first pack.” But I never did, and I know you were proud of me. I remember the first and last time I came home drunk. You said nothing until the next day: “I will let you go on this one time, but don’t try it again!” – and I never did.

Dad, to this day, I remember your response when I said that if I was drafted, I would serve: “I didn’t raise you for 18 years to go off to war and get killed.” I was surprised and noted that you had served and fought in World War II. You replied: “That is why I don’t want you to go!”

You know, Dad, you said that one day I would not need you because I would be a man. Well, you were wrong. I’m now the age you were the last time we were together, and I still need to talk to you about life. Dads are important at any age. I miss you, and am glad you were always standing right there behind me. I hope to see you again. Happy Father’s Day.

Your loving son,

Anthony

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Tony has lived in Lake Hopatcong since 1987. He has a bachelor’s degree in American literature from Ramapo College, a New Jersey teacher’s certificate, and a master’s in business administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Tony’s column, “For What It’s Worth,” appeared in Aim Jefferson for nine years. He recently retired after 46 years in the corporate world. Tony can be reached at tony.haryn@thejeffersonchronicle.com.