June 14, 2014

Modesto-area dads on being dads: Snakes, diapers and, yes, Geppetto

In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our readers to share some of their memorable moments with their children, the fathers of their children or childhood memories of their own dads.

Dads, today it’s all about you.

In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our readers to share some of their memorable moments with their children, the fathers of their children or childhood memories of their own dads.

Moms tend to get a lot of attention in this world – Mother’s Day just celebrated its 100th anniversary as a U.S. holiday in May while fathers have been officially feted for a mere 42 years (the governor of Washington state proclaimed the first father’s day in 1910, but the rest of the nation didn’t give dad his due for 62 more years). But there are a lot of great dads out there who deserve their props, too.

So pour a cup of coffee and enjoy Father’s Day by reading the following anecdotes sent in by our readers:

When my daughter was eight years old, she asked for a mountain bike for her birthday. I told her, “Chris you don’t need a 15-speed bike in the valley, there are no hills.” I said “When I was your age bicycles only had one speed.” She said “Dad, when you were a kid were bicycles made of wood?” I said, “no Chris I’m not that old...”

– Charles Simmons, Turlock

When I think of dad I immediately visualize him coming through our door with his cowboy hat on. A toothpick in his mouth. And, a funny story that he is very excited about telling. We had heard most of the stories many times before, but we reacted as if they were new each time. Miss you dad.

– Sherrill Smith, Modesto

I was camporee chairperson for Waukeen District, of 49er Council, BSA. A camporee is held once a year for all patrols from the district’s troops to compete against each other in Scout craft skills. This particular year our spring camporee was being held at Camp 49er. After completing a morning of competition, we had a fun event called a Critter Race. The boys went out and found live critters, bugs, frogs, spiders, and such, and had a race to see which one was the fastest. My son, a member of one of the patrols, came up to me and thrust a small snake, which he was holding behind the head, into my face and says, “Can I race him, Dad.” Speaking slowly and calmly I said, “Brett, Do you know what kind of snake you have?” He said, “No.” I said, “Brett, you have a rattlesnake.” He said, “So, can I race him?” Still trying to remain calm I replied, “No.” Brett then asked, “Can I keep him?” The snake ended up pickled, in a jar above his bed, until he left for college.

– Vahl Clemensen, Modesto

Our precious dad, Hilbert Tapp , has been praising God in heaven for several years now. I do recall that he had us kids stumped one Christmas. We drew names for gift-giving and he drew his own, but didn’t tell anyone. Guess he got what he wanted, and it probably wasn’t clothing!

– Adele Gonzaga, Ripon

My husband, Dennis Wetherington , 60, and the father of our son, David Wetherington, 34, is our hero. In April, Dennis donated a kidney and stem cells to David. David has had an IgA autoimmune disease for 12 years that destroyed his kidneys. They are part of a study at Stanford University to see if stem cells donated along with the kidney will prevent the need for David to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life. They are both doing great and we will find out early next year if the stem cell graft did the job. Either way, as a nurse said at Stanford, “Dennis gave David life twice!”

– Donna Wetherington, Oakdale

When my husband and I were fairly new parents (our daughter is now 1) he handled the bedtime routine of bath, bottle and bed. They shared a bottle while he watched his golf or baseball in his fatherly recliner. One night, he says to me, “It feels like she peed all over me.” I reply, “No, honey, sometimes it’s so warm in the diaper it feels like it’s wet on your pants.” He then lifts her up, sighs, and begins to take her back to her room. I ask him’ “What’s the matter?” He doesn’t want to tell me. “Honey, what’s the matter?” “I forgot to put a diaper on her under her pajamas.” He hates the story, but I love it. It was immediately written into her baby book. Such are the trials of sleepy, worn-down, bedraggled new parents, and I love every minute of it.

– ColleenRose Mastagni, Modesto

A wonderful memory that I have of my dad has to do with Valentine’s Day. Every year, he bought me a Valentine’s Day gift and card. Most years it was a simple box of chocolates. The most memorable was when I was in high school, and he had one dozen, long-stemmed chocolate chip cookies delivered. They were waiting on the porch for me in a clear box tied with a beautiful red bow. Thanks, Dad, for making me feel loved and valued all my life.

– Beth Gundlach, Modesto

When my daughter Kristen was young, we had a child seat on the back of my bicycle. One day when we were out for a ride, I flatulated and then said, “Excuse me.” Kristen asked why I said that, and I told her, “Because of that noise I made,” and she responded, “ I can smell that sound you made!!”

– Don Brock, Oakdale

When my son Michael was 3 (he’s now 32), we were at church on Father’s Day. During children’s sharing time, someone was presenting clues about fathers in the Scriptures. After each set of clues, Michael jumped up and down just knowing he had the answer. Sadly, each time, he was wrong. Undeterred, he kept trying to answer. Finally, the person leading the activity just knew Michael would get this one right. She said, “What father was a carpenter, and had a very famous son?” Confidently, she called on my son, who was wildly waving his arm. When he blurted out, “Geppetto!” it was a wonderful moment – and, yes, he was very proud of himself.

– Becky Speer, Modesto

My favorite memories as a dad involved going on day trips with my kids, Adam and Marit. We’d usually head to Yosemite, Santa Cruz or San Francisco. Sometimes we had an itinerary planned for our day, but occasionally we’d decide to do things on the spur of the moment. Spontaneity was key. One late winter day when Marit was just 3, the two of us took Mom, who was off to a conference in New York, to SFO. After kissing our goodbyes, I asked Marit if she was up for an adventure. She got a big grin on her face and said, “Yeah, Dad, let’s ’venture!”

We drove east to Highway 1, then headed south to Ano Nuevo State Reserve, home to one of the largest elephant seal rookeries in the world. The walk from the parking lot to the viewing area – mostly on a wooden walkway – is gorgeous. As one nears the ocean, the cacophony from the seals becomes deafening. Just before we reached the viewing area, I pointed out a seal carcass in the dunes about 30 yards away. Marit was mesmerized by it, wanting to know why it was there, what caused the seal to die and what would happen to the carcass. She got one of her answers immediately as a seagull glided down, stood on the carcass, pecked at it, and flew off with a large piece in its beak.

“Look, Daddy, (it) took a chunk!” said Marit, in a gleeful yet matter-of-fact sort of way. I just started laughing and Marit joined in. Thereafter, the phrase “took a chunk” became a huge cliché in our family, adapted liberally to almost any silly situation or conversation.

– Marc Medefind, Merced

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