(Photo from npr.org)

                                                                      ODE TO MY DAD

                            Dad, I’m glad you were one of my favorite parents,

                            Even though we disagreed about most sermons and nearly every election.

                            Dad, I’m glad you named me for you and not for Uncle Lafayette or Clarence.

                            And Dad, I’m especially glad you didn’t heed your own advice about wearing protection.

Father, Dad, Daddy, Da-Da, Daddy-O, Chief, Coach, Captain, My Old Man, Papa, Pop, Paw…whatever you call the fellow-who-gave-you-life, Father’s Day, or really any day, is a great time to celebrate him and add some extra joy to his life and yours.


“Guy gifts” are often a frustrating challenge—most of us don’t want another necktie and if you’re a 50+ guy, you probably don’t have room in your shed for another tool. Time might be the best gift you could give a dad—not just more time on earth, though if it’s good time, that would be great.

What most dads really want is to have more quality time with those they love and that includes—YOU. To help guide your gift-giving, I thought through the four, basic elements of “THE S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) JOYOUS AGING SYSTEM” and have these suggestions for your consideration:

RESPECT—Even though you and your father have history and generally genetics that are interwoven, you are still two individual people. Psychologist Arthur Dobrin of Hofstra University counsels— “Respect honors the uniqueness of each person. Allow each other the right to make his or her own decisions…There can be no respect without self-respect. There can be no self-respect without respecting others.” (SPELLBINDING)

COOPERATION—When I learned his mother, my wife, was pregnant with our child, I accepted that my job as a responsible father was to love him and help nurture a contributing member of society. (Full Disclosure: At the time my son was conceived, I was serving on the board of United Way-supported, Planned Parenthood, Birmingham, AL, which was pro-abortion. However, as my abstract, intellectualized position on that choice became personal for me as a first time, father-to-be, I chose to resign. A future installment in this JOY & GERONTOLOGY series will explore that life choice and other challenges.)

I was blessed to have two loving, responsible, active parents (sometimes more vigilant than I wished) but I hadn’t given much thought to what fathering involves. I wanted to be a good parent and societal member. This was pre-Google, so like the consummate geek I was and am, I went to the public library and researched— “What does it mean to be a good person?”

Bolstered by my research, I wrote my yet-to-be-born son a children’s book, WELCOME TO THE WORLD, SUGAROO, which playfully teaches the four things I’d learned everyone needs to do to be a good person. Three of the things held no surprise: Respect Others, Understand Others and Appreciate Others.

However, the fourth of the four traits of a good person is not one I’d articulated—Cooperate with Others. No child is an island and any parent will share that teaching a child to share and to be a team player are important for all of us. Give your dad the gift of cooperation. If he wants to cook the clams on Father’s Day, maybe you could clean the grill. (NEIGHBORING)

Henry Ford, the great American industrialist, was father to one child, a son, Edsel. Ford senior had this to say about COOPERATION— “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

LOVE—”A father’s love is one of the greatest influences on personality development,” according to a large-scale research project with a 13-nation team of psychologists. (UNITING) The results shared in “Science Digest” (2012) found that a father’s love contributes as much—and sometimes more—to a child’s development as does a mother’s love.

Here are quotes about the love between parent and child from a couple of famous fathers:

“As soon as my child was born, I immediately wanted to call my parents and just apologize because I never knew how much they loved me.”—Ashton Kutcher

“I would be willing to walk through fire for my daughter. Well, not FIRE, because it’s dangerous. But a super humid room. But not too humid, because my hair.”—Ryan Reynolds

Forget the fancy wrapped gift for your father—just show him some love.

FUN/PLEASURE—In total seriousness, I think the reason people choose to have children is for entertainment. I come from farming heritage, but it has been many decades since the children in most American families made good field hands.

What fun entertainment can you give your father? Watch a ballgame with him. Play a ballgame with him. Tinker on cars with him. Cook with him. Arrange flowers with him. The point is the SMILE-MAKING is about your unique dad and those things he finds pleasurably entertaining.

DAD JOKES? Yep, they are corny, and he only knows five of them—if you’re lucky—but let him have his fun. Below are a few groaners you might add to his comedy catch-of-the-day. If he/you enjoy them, search online for “The 200 Best Dad Jokes of All-Time Guaranteed to Make You Laugh” at menshealth.com:

“What do you call a line of men waiting to get haircuts? A barberqueue.”

“I just found out I was born color-blind. The news totally came out of the purple.”

“Which days are the strongest? Saturday and Sunday. The rest are weekdays.”

FORGIVENESS—What a fine Father’s Day gift a gracious, even unspoken choice of forgiveness could be! This is true for both fathers and their children. We all are flawed. We all mess up. One of the four prayers of all the old religions is to pray for forgiveness.

Choosing forgiveness, as psychologists view it, is a feeling and a thinking process which allows for releasing anger and gaining peace of mind. What do you think you are gaining by harboring resentment as if you are frozen in the past? In the famous words sung by an animated character—LET IT GO…OOOOOO!

The famous, 21st century study on forgiveness, conducted by Everett L. Worthington and Michael Scherer, found the inability to forgive is linked to hostility and anger which often lead to physical health challenges, especially cardiovascular conditions. Letting go of a grudge, forgiving, is linked to an enhancement of positive emotions such as empathy and compassion.

Looking for other FREE gifts for your dad? How about inviting him to volunteer with you on a community project that matters to him (NEIGHBORING), or get him started on a positive, daily habit like drinking a glass of water before each meal or going outside for a few minutes of sunshine each day? (SPELLBINDING) Most of all you’ll be letting him know he is appreciated, respected, understood and—LOVED.


“A father carries photos where his money used to be.”—Steve Martin

“When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back.”—Linda Poindexter

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”—George Herbert

“My father didn’t do anything unusual. He only did what dads are supposed to do—be there.”—Max Lucado

“What a father says to his children is not heard by the world, but it will be heard by posterity.”—Jean Paul

“A father is a man who expects his son to be as good as the man he meant to be.”—Frank A. Clark

“By the time a man realizes his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”—Charles Wadworth

“My father had a profound influence on me, he was a lunatic.”—Spike Milligan


–HUMPTY DUMPTY’S DAD: “If I’ve told you once, Humpty, I’ve told you a hundred times not to sit on the wall. But would you listen? NO!”

–THOMAS EDISON’S DAD: “Of course I’m proud you invented the electric light bulb, Tommy. Now, turn off that light and get to bed!”

–MICHELANGELO’S DAD: “Dammit Mikey, can’t you paint on the walls like other kids? That’s going to be the devil for your mom to scrub off the ceiling.”

GOLDILOCK’S DAD: “What I’m holding in my hand is a bill for a broken chair over at the Bear family’s house. Know anything about this vandalizing, Goldie?”

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS DAD: “Yes, that sounds like an exciting discovery, Chris. But your mother was worried sick. Would it have killed you to write?”


June 18—Sir Paul McCartney

June 19—Moe Howard

June 20—Brian Wilson

June 21—Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

June 22—Meryl Streep

June 23—Randy Jackson

June 24—Ambrose Bierce

                                                                     DAD’S GRILLED CLAMS—MARYLAND

                                                              (Source: Adam Richman on “The Today Show”)

Each week, JOY & GERONTOLOGY shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. The delicious and nutritious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin) which many gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyful life.


2 dozen littleneck clams

1/3 cup salt

2 lemons, quartered


Cocktail sauce (optional)


Step 1—Tap top of clams to make sure they are alive. If they are open prior to cooking a tap will make them close. Any clams that do not respond are dead and should not be eaten.

Step 2—Place clams in large container or a bowl with cool tap water and salt and let stand 20-30 minutes.

Step 3—Remove clams from water, rinse and scrub off any additional “gunk” there may be on the outside.

Step 4—Place clams on the hot grill; making sure grate is level, and grill without moving 6-8 minutes. Carefully remove the clams using tongs or heat safe gloves, taking care not to spill the liquid inside. If any clams do not open, discard them! They are dead and not fit for consumption.

Step 5—Place clams on tray with slices of lemon and cocktail sauce on the side. To eat, squeeze lemon on top and spoon cocktail sauce, if using, on top of the clam in open shell and scoop out with your top teeth. Cocktail forks may be used but it is way less FUN!


550. “Father of the Bride” starring Spencer Tracy.

551. “Father of the Bride” starring Steve Martin.

552. “Oh, My Papa” sung by Gomer Pyle.

553. “Daddy’s Hands” written and performed by Holly Dunn.

554. Being in a low-ceiling house, jumping for joy and banging my head on a beam when I heard I was going to be a dad.

555. Misting up the first time I heard my baby boy laff.

556. My dad’s big heart and constant sense of fairness.

557. “Papa’s Got a Brand, New Bag.”

558. “Our Father which art in Heaven.”

559. “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”

560. Sugar Daddy caramel on a stick.

561. W.C. Handy “Father of the Blues” Festival.

562. “Master and Gardener,” the two-performer dramedy I wrote about dad and me.

563. “Mama’s got a squeezebox; Daddy never sleeps at night.”

564. “Daddy sang bass; Mama sang tenor.”

565. Mufasa.

566. Andy Taylor.

567. Jed Clampett.

568. Learning Augustine Washington, Sr. was the father of “The Father of Our Country.”

569. “____ My Dad Says” by Justin Halpern.

570. “Daddy” by Beyonce’, whose father, Mathew Knowles, created Destiny’s Child.

571. Reading Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif (1645 to 1727) fathered more than 1,000 children.

572. “Dance with My Father” by Luther Vandross.



Ben South