I can count on one hand the number of times my father has really and truly liked his Father’s Day gift. When I was a kid, the handmade macaroni necklaces and the soap-on-a-rope was received politely, and given to my mother, as my father does with all gifts he doesn’t really want. Last year I scored with a bunch of salty nuts and six bottles of Dad’s Root Beer. I know my father liked his gift, because he hoarded it, and allowed no one to touch it. Generally, giving my father root beer as a gift is the answer to all things — not soap, not ties, not sporting goods, not sentiment. Root beer. And so, I give it to him for his birthdays and for Father’s Day, and we muddle through the gift-giving thing one more time.
This year, on Father’s Day, my eldest sister dropped by my parent’s house. It was hot, and my father was lying down on the cool tiles of the front porch with pillows, a drink (probably root beer) and a book. To my sister’s surprise, my father was reading MARE’S WAR.
My father is proud of me. Truly, he is. But, his pride consists of telling people that I’m a writer, suggestion on to whom I should give books, suggestions for writing subjects, and generally telling me how to do what I do. His pride has not so far extended to actually, you know, reading my books or anything. But he was apparently bored enough, and hot enough to make a start. And then, he responded with enthusiasm. He regaled my sister with his list of actors who should be cast in a film version. He raved about how surprisingly good the book was. He was engaged. He was excited.
So, this year, the gift on Father’s Day was for me. And I shall hoard this little memory, and not let anything touch it.