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Dad and I Disagree

It happened suddenly.
A long time ago, back when I was still in high school, my father died. He was just 49 years old. Damn.

Dad was a good guy.

Now, more than 50 years later, I still think of him often. When I was growing up, he was part of so many vital experiences. Together we went on camping trips, built things, took things apart, and visited interesting attractions. Dad exposed me to a wide variety of history lessons, peculiar opportunities, and kitchen fiascoes.

All these were chances to see how a man behaves and learn what a man thinks. Let me share a couple examples with you.


In the woods.
Camping with Dad was fun but also a life lesson about what you could and could not control. On camping trips, Dad seemed to think that Nature didn’t care if we were comfortable or miserable. If we were lucky and properly prepared, it was permissible to luxuriate in comfort. 

But, if the weather turned cold, got windy, and rained, those events were not to be taken as a personal attack by Nature—just something that happened in the woods. Dad would take miserable conditions with a smile and work to find ways to make us all warm and dry.

Figuring out how to stay dry or how to cook dinner in a high wind became an immensely satisfying victory. And everything that went wrong became a lesson you could use to come into the woods better prepared next time.

It turns out that these principles also apply when you come out of the woods. When things are going well, it is okay to enjoy it. And when things are going badly, it is smart to look for a lesson.

In the kitchen.
On days my Mom couldn’t be home for dinner, Dad would take over kitchen duties. He taught me that one can put anything one wishes into an omelet. Society may have conventions about omelets and those conventions may have wisdom in them and deserve to be respected. But, when you are making and eating the omelet, you are free to add any ingredients that appeal to you. No official rulebook applies. Experiment. Go crazy if you want.

And clean up the mess before Mom gets home.

On the road.
Dad took us on a lot of long road trips and short Sunday drives. Often, somewhere along the journey, the whole family would feel the car unexpectedly slow down. Then Dad would pull into a road-side ice cream establishment and treat us all to ice cream cones.

Of course, the ice cream was excellent, but the real pleasure was in how unexpected the treat was. No discussion. No anticipation. Just an unexpected treat. Is there a life lesson here too? Just this—there is a lot of bonus power in a surprise. 

Or maybe this—don’t constantly push toward your goal. Stop for some bliss now and then.

Dad was wrong
Dad taught great lessons, but sometimes he was wrong.

Here’s one example. Dad taught that it is wrong to swear. He believed that a man doesn’t need to stoop to crude profanities to communicate. 

In general, he was right. And the situation has gotten worse. Today, foolish, foul-mouthed, nincompoops are blunting the evocative power of swearing through overuse. But a total ban doesn’t make sense.

People can experience a wide spectrum of feelings, so why eliminate any portion of the broad spectrum of human expression? There are times when conditions are so objectionable that only a blistering curse can convey your true feelings. Like when you lose a cherished loved one without warning.

I wish Dad was still around so we could argue about this topic.

Pittsburgh, May 31, 2018

PS: It was Dad’s attitude about swearing that led me to create the Classy Curse Mug project—a way to express your vile passions with refined good grace.

15 Responses

Bruce Balisterri

June 16, 2020

Just read this now so even though it’s a couple of years old, still new to me!
Your dad taught you well Don, in the too-short of time he had with you. You honor him with your tribute. Well done on the stories about him, and on learning the good stuff he taught.

Paul Nichols

June 07, 2018

So happy I knew him.


June 05, 2018

Thank you for sharing this😍

“Believe nothing you hear and half of what you see with your own eyes.” Dad would always tell me whenever Mom got riled up over gossip – which was often. I can’t begin to imagine how he would have processed social media but I can hear him whispering “…and 1% of what you see with your own eyes”.

He was and still is my hero.

Linda Diefenbach

June 04, 2018

Thanks for sharing your memories.

gary moyer

June 01, 2018

Doris asked, Don is that you in the picture? I can testify, yes that is Don. I know because that’s a 1952 or 1953 Ford Woody wagon (I know because i helped dad fill all the termite holes in the genuine wood trim with plastic wood). Don (the smartest of the three Moyer boys) was born in about ’48. So that cute little tike in the picture must be Don at age four or five. As always, great writing Don.

Michael Yolch

May 31, 2018

This was a touching read, Don. Very enjoyable and thought-provoking. More importantly, it forced me to intentionally turn off the noise around me and have some of my own great dad memories…some of which I hadn’t thought about in many years.

Like the time my dad took me hunting. Hunting was not in my dad’s wheelhouse to say the least; but he tried to be dad-like from time to time. While taking a break for lunch, he laid his rifle across the bench seat of his truck, pointing toward the passenger door. Just as I grabbed the passenger door handle to get in…KABOOM!…the rifle had gone off while he was ejecting shells – missing my torso by just a few inches. The sound was deafening. His great advice on the way home was, “Don’t tell your mother.” Sure, dad…she’ll never notice the massive blown out metal on the outside of the door caused by a 30/30 hollow point bullet – and I guess we’ll find a new door for a 1964 Ford pick-up truck on the 15-minute ride home.

Mom found out of course. Just like she learned the real reason that the entire front end was caved in on his brand new lawn tractor. Gotta give him credit for trying to blame it on his 8 year-old Grandson; but when push came to shove, he confessed that he had fallen asleep while cutting grass and ran into a tree head-on. Goodness gracious.

Doris Zurawka

May 31, 2018

I enjoyed this, Don. Is that you in the photo?

virginia johnson

May 31, 2018


CZ Ankney

May 31, 2018

It’s been 8 years and I still have his phone number on my cell phone. And yes, I want to phone him almost every day – just to check in.

Gretl Collins

May 31, 2018

Lovely sentiments, Don. I remember your dad. My dad died 15 years ago and I still miss him…though my dad never, ever went camping in my lifetime. He felt that God’s gift was indoor plumbing, electricity, and hot water on demand. I can’t disagree.

Kaye Davis

May 31, 2018

Thia was such a beautiful tribute. I lost my dad three years ago and I still hear him “teaching” me when something comes up. A good father and a good man are immeasurably important gifts and those of us that have had them are so very lucky!

Can’t wait for our demi-plates!!!!

George Heidekat

May 31, 2018

Good one, Don.

George Heidekat

May 31, 2018

Good one, Don.

LAura Jones

May 31, 2018

This was very satisfying to read. Thank you!

Lisa Hunerlach

May 31, 2018

Sweet blog entry. Camping and swearing. Scraping leftover pizza toppings into omelets. Well I’m assuming so. Point is that your simple reflections brought me some joy this morning in remembering good times with my own dad. Thanks.

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