Father’s Day – food, fun, and stories told. We take a break this weekend from our Financial Olympian™ conversations to share with you,our memories of Dad. We want you to join us in laughter and memories as we shake the cobwebs off of the past and bring our stories into your present.
I encourage you to read them all and enjoy making memories with your Dad and your children this weekend.
Wondering if I will get a book or socks this weekend – Michael
Warning: This story does involve the killing and eating of frogs…and my redneck Alabama background will be totally exposed!
During one visit to my grandparents, my Dad decided he would like frog legs for breakfast (ick). Grandma grew up in the depression so her meal philosophy was that if you hunt it or catch it, I can cook it. My grandparents had a pond on their land that was full of frogs.
Dad needed a helper and I volunteered. I was the oldest of the siblings and the bravest! I say bravest because frog giggin’ can only be done at night and usually around water. Snakes also exist in the same area and I was (and still am) deathly afraid of snakes. Like, kill the snake and ask questions later, afraid of snakes. I HATE SNAKES! Am I making myself clear? That’s how brave a kid I was.
It got dark and I set off with my dad, a five-gallon bucket (with a lid), a flash light, and a frog spear. We headed across the pasture and over to the pond with me keeping a diligent watch for snakes and anything else that might creep or slither over my feet. My dad found a spot on the bank of the pond, sat me on the bucket and started hunting for frogs.
My dad would gig the frog and I would quickly lift the lid on the bucket so he could put the frog in. I would then quickly close the lid and sit back on the bucket. Bucket sitting was a very important part of the job. Sometimes frogs are not instantly killed or rendered inactive when they are gigged. The frogs want out of the bucket and can knock the lid off the bucket if they jump hard enough. The wicked side of me thought it was great fun to sit on that bucket and listen to those frogs thump against the lid trying to escape the bucket.
Don’t judge me. In the 70’s a kid had to get their entertainment where they could.
We hunted frogs until my Dad had enough for breakfast and headed back to the house. Grandma fried the legs for breakfast and they were devoured by the frog leg eaters. I did not partake because that’s just gross.
I tell this story to remind myself that to make memories with your kids you don’t have to spend a lot of money or give them an amazing experience. What kids value most is your attention and your time. I got to spend time with my dad, in a slightly scary activity, that didn’t cost any money. Thanks for the memories Dad!
My Dad was a heavy smoker while I was growing up and as he got older, he tried to quit several times, especially after his Dad was diagnosed with emphysema.
One time when I was in high school, our church youth group, which was very small took a trip to New Orleans for a convention. During a break, we were sitting around a table and one of the guys pulled out a pack of cigarettes and offered one to each of us. I took one and smoked it. I thought it was pretty cool. After the trip I got an older friend in the group to buy me a pack of cigarettes. I hid them in my purse and one day my Dad found the pack of cigarettes. Needless to say, he was not happy to learn I was smoking especially since he was trying so hard to quit.
And for my sin, I was grounded for a week but on the other hand, I never picked up another cigarette even though several of my high school friends continued this self-destructive behavior.
Dad was finally able to quit smoking after his doctor showed him an x-ray of his lungs and an x-ray of a person who had smoked all their life. It scared him enough that on his 50th birthday, he decided to quit the habit. He never smoked again.
I’m grateful that my Dad loved me enough to stop me from developing a very unhealthy and expensive habit.
When I was 8 years old I rescued my first animal, a wild cat. Over a period of several days, the cat slowly began to warm up to me until she completely trusted me. My mother knew nothing of my plan to keep this cat – she had made it clear that she didn’t want another animal to have to take care of since our 15-year dog had just died. My father was pretty stern and intimidating while I was growing up but I discovered his soft spot – animals. He sided with me and I was allowed to keep this feral cat. Smokey never wanted to go into the house but treated our garage as her home. My father helped me find bedding and food fitting for an undomesticated cat. We soon discovered Smokey was going to have kittens. My father ended up being the obstetrician when Smokey’s time came. He let me be his assistant and he was so gentle and caring and made me feel I was a key player in bringing her kittens into the world. Although my father and I “rescued” several other animals in the years to come, I will never forget the bond he and I forged over my first cat.
When I was about 8 years old, I went through a bit of a learning phase when it came to general manners and politeness to both my peers and elders. With my mom working full time, and my dad entering an early full retirement, my brothers and I were fortunate enough to enter into the Mike McDonald School of Proper Etiquette and Other Life Lessons On the Fly, tuition free (incredible value). We learned fairly quickly that there were two rules and two simple consequences should those rules be broken. Rule 1- Replace the word “okay” with “yes, sir/ma’am”, and “no” into “no, thank you” (To my older brother’s frustration, the “sir or ma’am” only needed to be used when addressing adults, not older brothers). Rule 2- The “S” word and the “H” word were forbidden. Rule 1 really wasn’t a tough one, with the only serious repercussion being that if a response to a question wasn’t followed up with the proper verbiage, you’d be lectured and told not to forget. If you broke rule 2, you didn’t get off quite as easily. See most people grew up not being allowed to say the 7 dirty words, but in the Mike McDonald School of Proper Etiquette and Other Life Lessons On the Fly, there were only two: stupid and hate.
Well one day, while playing around our pool, I had just about had it with my little brother following me around while I was trying to hang with my older brother and the cool older kids, and it I let it out. I don’t remember what exactly I said but I’m sure it was something along the lines of “I hate you, quit following me.” Oops. I knew my ass was grass, and I was right. This was the first time I had let either the S or H word slip in a public setting, and I had no idea what was coming. Well in all it took about 20 minutes (20 painfully slow, eternal minutes) from the time that I had said that, to being calmly told by my dad, who was now holding a tablespoon spoon full of soap, what was about to happen. First- I needed to apologize to my younger brother and let him know that I did not in fact hate him and second, I got to taste that spoon full of soap for a full minute and not a second less. Let me tell you, that was the last time I said that word in a long time, and still to this day I cringe (and vividly remember the taste of the dish soap) when I hear someone use either one of those two words.
After I spit all of the soap out (and subsequently started to cry), my dad called me back into his office for a good old fashioned Mike McDonald story- the upshot of which was this: belittling people by calling them names or ostracizing them and in the process filling your own heart with hate have no place in this world. Dad grew up in Alabama during the Civil Rights movement, and had seen firsthand just how powerful words could be. It was that simple; words matter. Granted, it took me a little while (i.e. about a decade) to figure out what he was really talking about, and why the hell I had to put soap in my mouth just for a little slip up, but I sure never made that mistake again.
I’ve got a lot of hilarious, fun, emotional stories with my dad, but ironically, it’s a spoon full of soap that I wouldn’t trade for the world on this Father’s Day weekend.
Happy Father’s Day, to all the dads out there that are teaching their kids to be polite, to be mindful of their words, and most importantly to take care of the people around them, whether it be friends, family, neighbors or those less fortunate than themselves.
The great memories of growing up with my dad. I could tell you about all of the NON-Emotional business conversation that had a HUGE impact. However, I decided to share one of the many1976 Alfa Romero Spider stories. My Dad loves this car and 40 years later, still has the car. It is his pride and joy of his retirement, and the subject of many stories told at family gatherings.
While the Alfa was cool and very sexy, it had one “issue” that plagued my Dad – the gas gauge. Countless trips for repair never seem to correct the issue for long or just maybe he let it go to low….HMMMM.
For us in Houston in the late 1970’s life was simple, my Dad would take Gina, my sister, and I to school in the Alfa. (That’s right, one of us was in the back, usually me.) One COLD January morning my sister and I were having one of our famous morning arguments – mad not speaking. My father being the great and patient diplomat, would drink his coffee, listen to the radio, and ignore us. About 2 miles from school, it happened. The Alfa was out of gas and we glided to the side of the road – no gas AGAIN!
Well to say the least my sister and I were no longer mad at each other. We were mad at DAD!
Even today, we can’t ride in the Alfa without remembering a story or two. Thanks Dad for the memories that are much funnier today!
My Dad’s family was in the mattress making and selling business when he was growing up and his skill with a hammer and other tools is outstanding. Even today, 53 years later, the workshop he built in the garage at 720 Melrose Dr. in Richardson is still being used by the current owners. This workshop was not just a bench, it was an enclosed room that had storage, a large work bench and peg board walls for hanging his tools.
It is this do it yourself mentality that leads to one of those stories that we hear from time to time around the table for family gatherings.
Picture Richardson, Texas in the mid-1960’s, a town of young professionals and their families living in Fox & Jacobs mass-produced subdivisions. On the 700 block of Melrose there are 34 houses and probably 100+ children age 1-12. It was suburbia at its finest. Saturday’s were lawn mowing, chore doing days with the Summer evenings spent with grills going and us playing outdoor games like hide and seek and kick the can.
Our house was in the middle of the 700 block of Melrose and from the east to the west sloped downward to the creek at the end of the block. That meant that from one house to the next, there was about a three-foot drop until you reached the next flat surface that was established for the next house. Picturing this will help you to understand the calamity that was about to occur without my Dad’s knowledge.
It was July and my Dad had spent the entire morning and into the afternoon putting up gutters around the house. Guttering was an “extra” for a tract house subdivision and my Dad knew that he could do it himself for a better price. We had made the trip to Sears earlier that week to purchase all of the guttering and supplies needed for the installation.
After all of the installation, my Dad needed to know that it worked. So there he was a young man in his late 20’s climbing up on the metal ladder on the west side of the house, wearing white converse tennis shoes, while socks, Bermuda shorts and no shirt. Holding the water hose and then instructing me to go turn the water on. I complied and ran back to see the water squirting onto the roof and running down to be captured by the gutter and running out the spout as it was supposed to be.
What was not noticed by either my Dad or myself was the water splashing off the roof and onto the ladder. OSHA would not have approved the worksite for lack of proper safety requirements.
It was probably about 30 seconds after we began that I noticed the look on my Dad’s face and realized that this was not going to end well. The water had gotten under his shoes and made his secure stance on the ladder become quite unstable. In less than a blink, my Dad and the ladder parted ways. My Dad falling through the ladder and then hitting the ground with a splat.
The fall knocked the breath from my Dad’s lungs and he laid on the ground not moving. Beginning to move you could see that he was skinned from head to toe. Without saying a word, he picked himself up and began to pick up the ladder.
There was no need for words; the new guttering worked.
Michael Tannery CPA CDFA™ AIF® ● CEO
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