Enjoy a Few Father’s Day Laughs
If someone suggested to my late father that he was working too hard, or just not taking care of his health, he might reply like this: “I will get enough rest when I am buried at Fort Snelling (National Cemetery).”
That was pure dad. A mostly serious and bright guy, he had a few favorite expressions like the one above. Another spoke to his willingness to try most any type of food or beverage, and then speak nonsensical about it. “It will do you a lot of good—if it helps you,” dad liked to say while hoping for a laugh from family or friends.
My father, also Dave Shama, was 44 years old when I was born. I can remember being about five or six years old when he was huffing and puffing while running by my side as I learned to ride my first bicycle. Dad was pudgy, out of shape and much more comfortable at a contract bridge table than in a gym. His preferred recreational options definitely were not long walks, jogging, dumbbells and exercise bikes.
Dad enjoyed eating somewhat unusual things like sardines or a smelly piece of calf’s liver, drinking a beer or two most days, and flooding the air with smoke from his almost ever-present cigar or pipe. Even when the cigar wasn’t lit, he was chewing on the thing like a persistent rabbit attacks garden plants.
The number of times my dad played sports with me in the backyard or at a park was minimal. He did, however, convey his interest and knowledge of athletics by offering companionship in front of the TV and radio. Many were the nights we watched the Twins on television, or dialed into radio broadcasts of National League teams.
Dad was a law school graduate of the University of Minnesota. He loved the football Golden Gophers and he took me to my first game when I was eight years old. Sitting at old Memorial Stadium, I couldn’t imagine enjoying anything more than those games. I reveled in every minute of the experience starting about 90 minutes before kickoff when the loudspeakers blared out John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
When I came home from a game I was so jacked up I invited neighborhood kids to play tackle football in our backyard. What a disadvantage they were at after spending the earlier part of the afternoon making model airplanes or catching a nap. I was ready to toss my friends to the ground, pretending I was a Golden Gopher and playing for the glory of winning the Little Brown Jug, Paul Bunyan’s Axe or Floyd of Rosedale.
That affection for the University and the Gophers has benefitted me in countless ways throughout my life including friendships I have made. It seems like almost daily I hear from someone with U connections, and they usually brighten my day. One friend has been going through weekly challenges with a flooded basement this spring, while resorting to not only sandbags and 13 fans, but also four industrial dehumidifiers. He apologized via text recently for not promptly answering my email invitation to set up a breakfast, and he explained to me the flood misery he has experienced.
“If we can get a couple of weeks without rain, or a small amount, then we can dry out,” he wrote. “Otherwise, I will be changing my name to Noah.”
Getting back to Father’s Day, I think my own sons are better dads than I ever conceived of being. It’s like they almost studied my behaviors and realized they should do the exact opposite.
Maybe they acquired their strategy from the Seinfeld episode when career vagabond George Costanza interviewed for his dream job with the New York Yankees. George decides that whatever thoughts come to mind, he will do the opposite. (His lament: “My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.”)
Sitting in front of team owner and world-class curmudgeon George Steinbrenner, Costanza seemingly breaks every rule for job interviewing. He even insults Steinbrenner. Stunned by Costanza’s bravado, Steinbrenner turns his attention to one of his underlings and says: “Hire this man.”
I hope I am making you laugh—even if only slightly. I confess to having close family tell me for years, “You’re not funny.”
Well, I don’t give up easily.
Sometimes advice from those closest to us is spot-on. I can still hear my dad talking to me about a great job I turned down with a prominent newspaper.
“They won’t offer you again,” he said.
You were right, Dad.
My father didn’t deluge me with a lot of advice. Maybe it’s better that way, just observing our role models. I learned about integrity and honesty from him. His example made me interested in politics and world affairs. He also imparted a deep appreciation for America and love of patriotism.
My mom had great devotion to our country and her ancestors fought in the American Revolution. She was a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution organization.
Before I knew about the DAR, I remember her brother used to say in front of me that mom had been a nurse in the Revolutionary War. I was about five or six when I heard that. I remember trying to sort it out in my noggin as to whether she really was a nurse in that long ago war I could hardly relate to.
My father served in the Army during World War II. He was stationed in Panama and hated the stifling heat. “If I ever get home, I will go kiss the pavement on Hennepin Avenue,” Dad said in Panama while longing for Minneapolis.
Not that my father regretted serving his country, even if he was far away from the European and Pacific battle fields and oceans where the outcome of wars with the Germans and Japanese were decided. “The enemy never took the Panama Canal,” Dad quipped.
Happy Father’s Day. I hope and trust you have memories to laugh and smile about.