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No tools ... No ties ... just time for Dad

Ron Whalen with his youngest, Desi. Tow of his other children, Dallas and Bristol, will be keeping com company on Father
Ron Whalen with his youngest, Desi. Tow of his other children, Dallas and Bristol, will be keeping com company on Father's Day. 'That would be nice,' he said.
— image credit: Maddie Leiren

Sure, you can opt for the tried — some might say “tired” — and true standbys, and you can be sure that the hardware stores will have specials for Father’s Day in the tool department.

But take a little time, scratch a little deeper — listen to the mysterious and sometimes concealed ways fathers make their deepest wishes known, and the gift you give this year might be far more meaningful.

In a world fraught with stress, pressure and deadlines, what dads want most of all is — you guessed it — time.

A collection of dads from around the island spoke out last week about what they’re looking for on Father’s Day, and you know what? Wonder of wonders: a new tool or a cool tie isn’t on the list. What do dads really want for Father’s Day?

Time to be with you.

“I’d like to have all four of the kids at home at once,” Ron Whalen said. “I should have all three at home. That would be nice for Father’s Day.”

For Whalen, as with most dads, Father’s Day is not about getting things but sharing time.

“I can remember taking the boys fishing on a Father’s Day. I had three of the Black boys and my two sons, and we got into spawner-herring on the westside. We got a whole bunch of them for bait. We stayed till dark catching fish. I remember that Father’s Day. It was a special Father’s Day. Yeah, that was fun.”

Duffy Harley’s needs are modest. “A little sunshine would be nice,” he said. “Nothin’ I can think of. I don’t need any ties. And I’ve got more than enough tools. A nice day together — a nice sunshiny day together would be great.”

Bill Morrissey looks forward to sharing laughs in the kitchen when his boys come home from college.

“When my boys were younger, I think they cooked me breakfast. I always appreciate it when they go out of their way. I don’t want anything monetarily, just to have my kids around. They both really like to cook.”

Brand new dads also don’t have anything particularly earth-shattering on their best-sort-of-day list. Chris Davis has a son who just learned to walk.

“I’m not expecting any gifts of any sort,” he said. “A great day would be just hangin’ out, going for a walk.

“I don’t want anything and I don’t think I ever will. I’d just like to have an opportunity to spend a day with my kid.”

The outdoors theme came up again and again for almost all the dads interviewed.

“Fun stuff for Father’s Day is basically me spending time with my family,” Peter Dederich said. “Hopefully, outdoors. Go on a hike, go to the beach, something like that. Maybe involving kayaks.

“The tough part is trying to carve out time to spend with the family. There’s always too much work to do. You have to think about what the priorities are and put the family first.”

Pat King remembers a particularly special Father’s Day that involved spending time with his family, but in an unusual way.

“I like to play golf on Father’s Day,” he said. “Probably the best one I had was when everyone sent me to Arizona to play golf with my dad. All of the kids were too young to play and have fun with dad, so they surprised me with an airline ticket to Arizona and I went and played golf all weekend with my dad, which was pretty cool.”

As fathers age, their expectations don’t really change that much; they’re still centered on just being with their kids.

“I’m already getting what I want,” Arlen Roth said. “Two of my three kids are coming up for Father’s Day. My son’s coming with his wife and two little kids. My daughter and her husband are coming from Idaho. And that’s all I want for Father’s Day. I’m getting it.”

Sometimes, after a lifetime of taking the kids to the beach, a little turnabout is order.

“A good Father’s Day for me would be if they would suggest to go to the beach,” one dad said. “I am the one always taking them to the beach, but if they would say, ‘Hey, let’s go to the beach,’ that would be a great Father’s Day.”

That dad goes unidentified. Not because the guy wanted to be anonymous, but what family wants to read about what dad really wants in the newspaper? Perhaps it’s better to let families listen carefully in other ways and leave wives, sons and daughters wondering, scheming and taking the initiative.

Fathers are unanimous on that point: it’s much more special when they do.

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