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Holding It All Together-A Day Late And A Dollar Short

By Amy McCollom
I am writing this the day before Father’s Day, but you will read it nearly a week later.  Even though I have seen Father’s Day on my calendar for weeks, I have been putting off thinking about it since Memorial Day.  That is when I went to visit my dad’s grave.  I am still grieving for him, so it’s been hard for me to set aside my emotions and write about fathers without choking up.  That is why this column is, as my dad would say, “a day late and a dollar short.”

Dad’s have their own way about them, don’t they.  They just have their quirky little sayings and things they do that just make them unique.  Any kid who has spent time just watching their dad has a few “dad phrases” that they can imitate with a deepened voice and comical gestures.  

“Son, when I was your age…..”

“Don’t let your mom catch ya doing that…”

“Pull my finger…”

“I’ll jerk a knot in yer tail…”

Thinking back, there must have been thousands of idioms that my dad passed down that I use every day, and they are just full of wisdom.  One of my favorite phrases is “one fell swoop.”  It so completely describes the action, that it leaves no room for discussion or compromise.  The phrase is so efficient that it indeed does what it says;  it describes a quick action at once, in one fell swoop.  I say it a lot actually.  Like, I’m going to sit down and get this column done in one fell swoop.  Genius.  Thanks Dad.

To this day, every time I make a delicious meal as good as one you would get at a restaurant, I quote my dad and say, “This is just like Downtown!”  I remember that was always one of his highest compliments for food, as we didn’t eat out at restaurants very often, and it was a real treat when we got to do so.  I had to explain that one to my kids.  And the difference between uptown and downtown.  As far as I know, uptown is where you go in the daytime, and downtown is where you go at night.  Yes, it’s the same place.  It’s just what we called it.  No, I don’t know why.

Dad taught me how to walk confidently and stand up straight and tall.  There was no long, drawn-out conversation about why, how, or big explanation.  With him, it was always ‘on the job training’ to life.  Any time we went anywhere, whether it was to a friends house, the grocery store, school, church, or anywhere really,  before we got out of the truck he would say, “Now stand up, and walk up there like you own the place!.”  

One time when I was about 10 years old, I had the hiccups.  It was annoying.  I was tired of hiccupping.  He looked across the kitchen table at me and said, “Stop that.”  I was rather surprised.  

“How can I just stop?  I tried holding my breath but it didn’t work?”  I said.

He said, “When I was your age, my dad told me to stop that, and I did.  I just stopped.”

Well, if he could do it, then I knew I could do it.  So I asked him to explain to me how he did it.  He taught me.  Now I can stop my hiccups whenever I get them.  If you are serious about learning how to stop yours, email me and I will explain in detail.  (

Dad may have been raised in the sticks and perhaps mispronounced some words (penguin for instance) and maybe he was not been able to keep quiet when it wasn’t his turn to answer a Trivial Pursuit game question, but he was funny, and he loved us kids, and he sure did teach me a lot.  I wish I could buy him a whirly-gig for his garden and help him pick tomatoes this summer.  I sure miss him every day.  Dads are great, aren’t they?!  Hug ‘em if ya got ‘em!  Remember ‘em if ya don’t.  Happy belated Father’s Day, even if it is a day late and a dollar short.  I love you, Dad.

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