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A heart for dad

Podcast Recorded: May 16, 2022
Sister Rejane and her dad

To celebrate Fathers Day, the A Nun’s Life team shares stories about their dads.

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Sister Rejane  
Hello, I am Sister Rejane, Director of A Nun's Life Ministry. And today, we have a special episode for you. A Nun's Life felt it was important to give a shout out to our dads. So enjoy listening to the A Nun's Life team, and one other sister, share a short story about their father. Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there. And may our stories spark some sharing of your own father stories. Enjoy.

Sister Pat  
Hello, this is Sister Pat Johansson. So this is a story that I remember about my dad. I was about 13 or 14, and Mom sent me out the farm with him--he was going to be working in the field. And he came in for lunch, which I had made, and said to me, "When you finish cleaning up the lunch, come out to the field. I want to show you something." So when I finished, I walked up. He was in a field that was right behind our house, aways about a quarter of a mile. And then he stopped the tractor, and walked out on the prairie with me to show me a little bunch of what I think were wild violets. They were purple. And he said, "I just thought you'd like to see these. They're so pretty." And he said, "You know, when people say there is no God, I think about these little things that just spring up out of the prairie, and think, how can there not be a God?" So that was just a story that I always remember. And I think partially, it's one of the things that's given me a love for nature. And I think it also has grounded me in my faith, and just faith in God, relationship with God as both a child and an adult.

Hi, it's Kelly. On this Fathers Day, I'd like to take some time to remember my own father. My dad passed away back in 2017. We didn't have the best relationship. But I still remember many good times with my dad. One in particular is Christmas. My dad loved Christmas. But he especially loved putting up our Christmas tree. When I was a kid, I can remember it taking days to put up our Christmas tree. See, my dad made sure that every light on the tree was lined up perfectly. We didn't have one of these pre-lit trees. So he would do it by hand, starting on the inside of the tree, going all the way to the bottom, bottom branches. And then he’d do the outside of the tree with the string of lights. We had so many lights on our Christmas tree. But boy, was it beautiful. I can remember my dad coming home from work each night, eating dinner and then getting to work on the tree. My fondest memory is of him and I both on our backs underneath the tree, putting the lights on one by one until it was done. And then we'd unwrap the ornaments. We didn't unwrap one and put it on the tree. No, we had to unwrap every single ornament that we had, put it all out on our dining room table, and then each kid--there were five of us--would each get our own pile of ornaments to put on the tree. We'd go one by one. And of course those had to be placed perfectly as well. And when it was all done, my dad would turn off the lights in the room and we would sit back on our couch and admire the tree. And like I said before, it was beautiful. And so every Christmas--sometimes I catch myself, with my kids, trying to get every light on our tree perfectly. And they love it. And it just takes me back to my dad working on our tree every year. So today on Fathers Day, just a shout-out and thanks to my dad for making Christmas so special in our house.

This is Elisabeth and I wanted to tell a story about how my kids love to hang out with my dad, mainly because they think he is just hilarious. So for instance, if we are watching a movie after we've eaten dinner together, and he is sitting hunched in his chair, and his little eyes are very, very big, because he's watching the action on the screen, we all nudge each other and smile, because he's clearly so invested in the movie. But the really favorite thing that he does is after we have finished dinner, and we're still sitting at the table, the kids will look at his very, very clean plate and say, "So, Grandpa, how was it?" And he doesn't always realize that he's supposed to say the exact same thing they think he always says. So sometimes they have to nudge him a little bit, until he finally says, "I didn't like it." And then they laugh and laugh. And that makes me really laugh, because actually, when I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do with my dad was to ask him about what it was like when he was growing up. And I especially loved to hear the stories about his eating habits. Because as a growing and energetic boy, he ate quantities of food that I couldn't even imagine. So he was kind of like a hobbit. You know, he'd have breakfast, he'd go out and play soccer for a couple hours, he'd come back and have second breakfast, he'd go back out again. And it just made me laugh so much. And so I actually called him, our "garbage disposal," because if I couldn't quite finish my dinner, you know, he'd help me out. And looking back, that's such a dreadful nickname. But you know, like many dads, he was very good-spirited about all of this and never took offense. So now, when he and I are having a meal together, and sometimes he'll kind of look sadly at the menu and say, "You know, I just can't eat the way I used to"--it just always makes me laugh. So, for all the purposeful and unintentional laughs--thanks, Dad.

Hi, this is Laurie. Since Fathers Day falls during the summer and baseball season, I thought I'd share a memory of my dad that's been at the top of my mind lately. This summer, my 10-year-old son started playing baseball. And all his games are held on diamonds at our county rec center in the shadow of this big hulking ruin of a baseball stadium. The stadium fondly referred to as the Ned was once the home of the Toledo Mud Hens, our hometown minor league team. It's fallen into disrepair in the years since the Mud Hens moved to their new Field in downtown Toledo. But it carries a strong memory for me anytime I see it. I grew up in a pretty traditional home. My dad worked full time as a janitorial supply salesman. And mom was the one always home with us kids when we were younger. My dad was not the type to sit down and chat with us frequently one-on-one about our daily lives. And I don't have a lot of memories of doing things with just him. But I do have a vivid memory of attending baseball games with him at the stadium. It wasn't a frequent occasion, and never planned in advance. It was always just sort of a delightful surprise. My dad would suddenly say to me, "How about we go catch a Mud Hens game tonight?" I remember the drive to the stadium felt so long, like we were going across the state. As an adult, of course, I now realize it was only about 20 minutes across town. It would be so exciting to climb into the stands and find our seats. My dad would get me a hot dog or popcorn from the guys hawking snacks in the aisles. I don't think the Mud Hens were a particularly great team at that time. And we never stayed to the end of the game. We would leave in the seventh or eighth inning. And I always had to look up the final score in the paper the next morning to see who won. The funny thing is neither my dad nor I were really big sports fans at all. He couldn't care less about watching sports on TV, and wouldn't be able to tell you who was playing in the World Series. I think those baseball games were just a nice way for him to relax and spend a summer evening with his youngest daughter. I'm thankful for this memory of time spent with just him. Even though there isn't a single picture to document it, this vivid image comes to mind every time I see the old stadium. It's a warm summer evening, and it's just me and my dad side by side in the stands, eating hotdogs and watching a baseball game while the sun goes down.

Sister Rejane  
Hello, this is Sister Rejane, and I'd like to share a story about my dad. I have affectionately nicknamed him Data Man, because data is his superpower, and has nothing to do with sports. Okay, what you need to know is he is a retired medical physicist. So for those of you out there that have moms and dads who are physicists, you might understand some of these examples of data and just loving to collect it for the love of collecting data. One story is that every morning, he gets up, makes himself a cup of coffee. And he puts cream in his coffee, so he has a teaspoon to stir it. And then he puts the teaspoon back on the dish. But what he tries to do, he attempts to create unstable equilibrium with that spoon in that dish. So what that means is, instead of putting the spoon upside down where it's very stable, you have it face up, and you try to balance it rather precariously on the edge of the dish. And if you can get it to stay, you have unstable equilibrium, because if you just bump it, it's probably going to flip over. That's one thing he does every day is try to create unstable equilibrium with his spoon for his coffee. And the second example is--you know, a lot of us these days are playing Wordle and Nerdle. Wordle is about words. Nerdle is about simple math equations. And my father was playing up to mid-April and using his phone--and then he cleared his Google settings. And he lost all that good data that was talking about his winning streak, how many words he'd gotten in three tries, four tries, so on and so forth. Well, he was somewhat devastated. So he ingeniously downloads an app that captures a screenshot of each Wordle and then just saves it right into his memo. So now all his Wordles are saved in the memo on his phone, and all his Nerdles are saved in the memo on his tablet. So when I go home for a weekly visit, he and I probably spend 30 to 40 minutes talking about this past week's Wordles--what was the word? How many tries did it take? What words were you attempting to use? All that good stuff. And at one point, I did ask my dad, "Now, exactly, why are you collecting all this data?" He's like, "Well, you know, it helps me for the future Wordles. I have five letter words to pull from. It's great!" And all I say is "I love you, dad. Thanks for being my Data Man."

Do you have a story about your dad that you would like to share with us for a future podcast? Call 913-214-6087 to leave a message, or visit us at anunslife.org. Music credit for this episode goes to Andy G. Cohen, for Gazing, which is used under a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 license. This episode is a production of A Nun's Life Mnistry, helping people discover and grow in their vocation by engaging questions about God, faith, and religious life. This program is made possible through the grace of God and the support of our sponsors of A Nun's Life Ministry, and you, our listeners. God bless.

This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.

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