Thanks, dad.

Father’s Day has come and gone, and hopefully, for most dads, the holiday had a better ending than a plaque I once saw in a store. It read: “If momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy. If daddy’s not happy, nobody cares.” This humorous take on family life aside, last weekend I opted to do something to make my father happy and traveled the 70 or so miles south to spend some time with him and my stepmother.

My father, Jim Case, is a very busy man. He always has been. Even though he has passed the official retirement age, he just keeps plugging along. Nevertheless, he is starting to realize his limitations. He simply can’t go like he used to go. Ongoing problems with sciatic nerve pain following a day of overexertion have underscored his physical limitations. My father has always had a good work ethic—sometimes, too good.

My father has had a lot of health challenges since entering his 60s a little over10 years ago. Quite honestly, I’m thankful to still have him around. After a quadruple bypass operation in 2004 and prostate cancer surgery in 2008, later followed by six weeks of daily radiation treatment related to this surgery, my father showed that he is a survivor. Subsequently, each Father’s Day is a gift.

Talking about gifts, I purchased the perfect present for him this Father’s Day:  a box of toothpicks to accompany a greeting card that opened to reveal a toothpick taped inside.

Let me explain. Several years ago, our family gathered to Detroit, Michigan to celebrate my cousin Sara’s wedding. My Aunt Georgia, Sara’s mother, does not believe in toothpicks, per her dentist’s recommendation (my dentist here in Pratt has a different opinion, thankfully). We discovered there were no toothpicks in the house following a meal at Georgia’s house. I quickly searched through my car and located a single toothpick. My father asked if he could have half of a toothpick, but, being my one and only toothpick, I was unwilling to share it with him.

He has never let me forget that, half-kiddingly, of course.

Hence, on this Father’s Day, I sort of repaid him. Truly though, I don’t think any of us can ever fully repay our fathers for the many sacrifices they have made on our behalf. That said, any day is a good day to say, “Thanks,” even if it’s only with a toothpick.