Editor’s note: OK, we know it’s Father’s Day, (Editor’s note continued below the piece)…
A Prose Piece by Michael H. Brownstein.
Every year I ask my 6th-grade students to write a valentine to someone they love. It`s an enjoyable activity, and they have a lot of fun with it. They write to their mothers, of course, and sometimes to their friends, but they never write to their fathers.
My father is over 70. He still puts in a 40-hour week. He writes poems so full of vigor and life they can make me cry. I remember how he coached the baseball teams and beat me in sprints so often that I turned to long-distance running.
I remember once when he was too sick to leave his bed, but I had a cross- country meet and nothing could stop him from seeing me run. It was late November, past Thanksgiving, and the wind blew cold off the lake. I remember the ice on the sidewalks and the spots of snow on the grass-and my father at every turn, somehow beating me there, cheering me on, pointing me out, smiling his big smile.
I didn`t win that race, nor did I place. But I was a winner nonetheless. My father made me a champion. He was that proud of me. I was even prouder of him.
It has been years since that race and I still hold him high on a pedestal. I love to read his poetry and listen to his laughter. I know if I enter another late-November race, he will be in the front row cheering me on. My students never write valentine cards for their fathers and I am afraid I have been guilty of this, too. Not this year. This year I want to go on record that Valentine`s Day is also a day for fathers. Happy Valentine`s Day, Dad.
Editor’s note continued: …but doesn’t the above piece work for both days? Orignally published in the Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1988, we just thought this was a perfect Father’s Day gift.