Posted by: deadmousediaries | June 12, 2014

Celebrating Happy Dads – a new Father’s Day Tradition from Mitchell Kyd

I’m on the hunt this week for Happy Fathers. That seems appropriate because Sunday is Happy Fathers Day. I know there are lots of them out there; I’ve seen them. If you’re happy and you know it, I hope you hear from Hallmark.

   One of my favorite memories from my old work routines was pulling up beside a man at a stoplight who was obviously having a great time listening to his radio. His lips were moving but it was the shoulder rolls and head bobbing that were the giveaways that he was having too much fun for phone talk. My first thought was Wow! He’s pretty confident to be singing like no one is watching. Then he turned and looked over his  shoulder to his passenger strapped securely in the car seat.  By the time I got stopped beside them, his toddler was into full-blown baby giggles.
   I love it when those things happen!  Those few seconds of peeping in on a young dad’s life warmed my heart for an entire day. It made me wonder how many of those kinds of  gifts we miss, both as bystanders and as the parents who can grab an ordinary moment and juice it up to be  spectacular.
   I was grocery shopping recently and got caught up in the antics of a young family crossing back into the parking lot. The mom was very pregnant and looked a little frazzled. Dad was pushing the cart with a toddler riding shotgun. This dad was singing, too, only this time it was the same three or four bars of a song that sent the kid into hysterics at the end, every time.  “Again!” the kid would squeal. “One more time?” Dad would question before launching into another animated round. In the short time it took them to cross the parking lot, this dynamic duo managed several volleys of singing followed by absolute delight that even wiped the weary from Mom’s face. It was so amazing, it made me want a toddler again — if only for a second.
   What is it about dads singing that is so endearing? Is it because so many of them can’t carry a tune in a bucket (as my grandfather would say)? Or is it because all the stories of child-rearing refer only to the melodic moms with voices of angels who sing only lullabies in darkened rooms and only at bedtime. Whatever it is, it’s charming.
   When-he-died-a-goodMy husband was not a singer but he was a charmer. He also always had a moustache, and not a small one. Our son was five months old by his first Christmas and Doug used to sing him Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.  When he got to the line: and kiss her once for me, he would bend down and give our kid a zerbert. I’m not sure zerbert is the technical word for this kid-pleaser but it’s what we called it when you press you lips on your kids cheek or neck and blow air against it. His moustache hairs would ripple in unison like a hundred thousand-leggers auditioning for A Chorus Line. It tickled and our son would giggle twenty times in a row if Doug would do it twenty times. Just like Pavlov’s dog, that little ritual turned into conditioned response. It got to the point that just hearing those words on the radio sent all three of us into spasms.
   I’m pretty sure my dad was a Happy Father, too, at least he always made me feel that way. I have a bizillion joy-filled images of the two of us in my brain (which is pretty amazing considering that for most remembering purposes, my retrieval system seems to be out or order). This is my third Father’s Day without him and sometimes I still forget for a second that I can’t pick up the phone and call him for advice or share something good about my life.
   When he died, a good friend sent me a note quoting a few lines from the TV series Grey’s Anatomy; she was welcoming me to the Dead Dads Club. In that episode, the character Christina tries to comfort George as she says: “There’s a club. the Dead Dads Club, and you’re not in it, until you’re in it. You can try to understand, you can empathize but until you feel that loss..I’m sorry you had to join the club.” Yep, that about sums it up.
   I remember how it felt to pass all those Happy Father’s Day cards that first year as a new member. I also remember how to dodge that section now.
   It may be a tough weekend for all this year’s new members of the Dead Dads Club, my own kids now included. If you’ve become a member too, join me on my mission to catch Happy Fathers in the act. It might give you something new and good to pour into The Big Empty.
   When you see a Happy Father, give your heart permission to sing out like no one’s watching.  Give that dad a smile or word of encouragement; he’ll remember it.  He might also put it on deposit for a day when withdrawals from his Happy Dad account need a little balance.  It’s a pay-it-forward kinda’ thing, a small deposit on the debt we owe dads everywhere.


  1. So touching! And another reminder how laughter touches the soul and heals the heart! Thank you!

  2. Yvonne, just love your stories-they are so relatable and always wonderful ! Ami

  3. What a wonderful reminder to find the good……to find those who bring joy. My dad has been gone 10 years and I hold on to the precious memories and things he has taught me……….so many times (more than I like to admit) I have his voice in my head……I value the values that he taught me.

  4. Reminds me of a Father’s Day card created by our son when he was about 4 yrs old. His teacher wrote the kids quotes and he said “I love riding in Dad’s truck where we play the radio loud and chew bubble gum” I still remember that card over 20 years later.

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