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Home / Articles / Arts & Entertainment / Celebrities /  The Giving Hearts of Dads
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Monday, June 3,2024

The Giving Hearts of Dads

By Michelle Hays  
Did you know Father’s Day was first celebrated on June 19th, 1910? We owe the celebration of Father’s Day to Sonora Smart Dodd! According to the History Channel, Sonora Smart Dodd is the true founder of Father’s Day. It just so happened that Sonora’s mother had died while giving birth to her sixth sibling, and Sonora and her siblings were raised by none other than… her father. Sonora got the idea that if mothers deserved to be celebrated (Mother’s Day was established in 1908, in case you were wondering), fathers deserved to be honored for a day also! Sonora Dodd met with many people, including government officials, to gain support for celebrating dads! Isn’t that interesting?

So, here we are 114 years later, celebrating Father’s Day. Fathers are indeed worth celebrating! Through the years, I have heard the saying, “Any man can be a father, but not every father is a dad” (or some version of it) countless times. It’s a very thought-provoking quote. So what exactly does it mean to be a dad? A father is a biological term, but a dad is much more! A “dad” can be anyone who raises any child. Dads listen, guide us, and show us love. Dads are fathers, caregivers, stepdads, and any man brimming with the intent of caring for, mentoring, and elevating others. Most of us know someone who may not be a biological father, but is a great dad.

My father was a fantastic dad. He was born in Schwerin, Germany, and when he was 16, he and his mom embarked on a long journey to America! Coming to America was no easy feat, but my dad (and grandma) were determined to live the American dream! My dad worked hard, saved money, and opened a delicatessen in Richmond Hill, NY. I worked at the deli with him, and I learned much more than met the eye then. I saw my dad take so many young people under his wing through the years. He gave them jobs, and challenged them to be better people, even when they screwed up. My dad was thoughtful, kind and generous. He believed in the good in people.

One time, an elderly homeless man came into our deli. The man had very short white hair, was extremely thin, and acted strangely. He walked around looking at everything, and casually slipped a package of Drake’s cupcakes into his coat. My dad had a watchful eye and would regularly gaze through the window of the walk-in refrigerator from the back of the store. He saw the man stealing and came out front. Instead of yelling at the man, my father asked him what was happening in his life. The man initially became anxious, because he realized my dad had caught him. The man started begging my dad not to call the cops, and ashamedly explained that he was just hungry. My dad assured the man that he would not call the cops, but asked him not to steal from our store anymore. I heard all of this from behind the counter, and then my dad said something I never expected. He told the man that whenever he was hungry, he could come to our store and ask for something to eat! And sure enough, Whitey (the nickname my dad gave him) came to our store for years and politely asked for something to eat, and his request was granted. Whitey affectionately called my dad, “Daddy.” At the time, I thought it was strange, because my dad certainly wasn’t his dad! Whitey knew something I didn’t know about life and people as a young, na´ve girl.

When I look back at all the lives my dad touched throughout his life, I realize that my dad had been a “dad” to so many more people than just my sister Denise and me. My dad passed away in 2020, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. I am sure many of you reading this can relate, and Father’s Day is bittersweet for us. Since I lost my dad, I have done my best to find joy on Father’s Day. When I close my eyes, I can see his smile; I think of him fishing and laughing, and somehow, a smile comes to my face, despite his absence. Treasure the moments with your dad and celebrate him this Father’s Day.

Let’s honor the dads, expectant fathers, and stepdads in our lives, and show them the love and appreciation they deserve in some way. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. Happy Father’s Day!


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