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The Last Father’s Day.

A couple of months ago, I found out my Dad had mantle cell leukemia–stage 4.  It is a very aggressive cancer and unfortunately, it is winning.  Dad was too ill to get the next round of chemo, so I am currently with him and my mom helping him through hospice. I am typing this through tears.

This will be my last Father’s Day with him. So, I thought it fitting to run this piece I wrote last year.

……………..

A couple of weeks ago, I found the picture above of my Dad from his days at Newsweek and had to share it. Actually I wanted to share more than just this picture. I wanted to talk a bit about how amazing my Dad is. I know everyone’s dad is amazing, but I’m glad this guy is my Dad.  He is always there for me.  A voice of sanity in an, at times, very shaky world.

So, I decided to enter him in SF Chronicle writer (and parenting blogger) Peter Hartlaub’s “My Father’s A Hipster” contest, with the following blurb that had to be under 100 words:

Here is a picture of my Dad from his days working for Newsweek in L.A. Equally comfortable hanging out with cast of Laugh In or a few Black Panthers, my Dad rocked the seventies with his outstanding style that would make Andre 3000 jealous. He is the only man I know who uses the phrase, “that cat” and actually sounds cool saying it. Even though he spent my childhood traveling and working late covering major news stories of the seventies and eighties, he always made me feel like I was front page news—above the fold even.

PS: But he still corrects my grammar. Once an editor always an editor…

Of course, he’s so much more than 100 words.  He was THE first black journalist hired full time at Newsweek, breaking color lines in the sixties. He was mentored by Katherine Graham from the Washington Post. He was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists which later became known as the Maynard Institute. He has won a Pulitzer for his work. And, folks, he interviewed Cher in the seventies. CHER!

But more important than that, my dad attended my Father Daughter Valentine’s Day dance in second grade and when he found out that any girl with a heart sticker under her folding chair got a special surprise, my dad overturned every chair until he found one with a heart sticker on it.

He crammed $50 in my hand before prom as “mad money”. Here is how the conversation went:

Dad: “Do you know what mad money is?”

Me: “No.”

Dad: “It’s for when you get mad at your date and need to get out of there. BE SAFE!”

He said I was, “the second most beautiful bride he’d ever seen.” I love him so much for that alone.

And when I was recently stressed over my career he said, “to be truly responsible, you need to be responsible for yourself first.” Clearly the man has a way with words.

I could go on and on and share more and more pictures, if only my parents weren’t so tightfisted with the slides. But here’s another one of his Newsweek photos I love.

But back to the contest. The “winner” has yet to be decided, but Dad’s pic did make the front page of the SF Chronicle’s Style Section.  Who could say no to that bow tie?

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thanks for being a wonderful example of how to be a working parent and make the most of each and every moment.

I love you!

PS: He didn’t win!  He was ROBBED!  No offense, but c’mon! I talked to Peter about this and even he acknowledges the total radness of Dad.

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Posted in Real Life : Dottie.


16 Responses

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  1. Eileen says

    Beautifully written!

  2. lishyloo says

    i love him. hugs to all!!!

  3. audrey says

    Beautiful words for s beautiful man. Thinking of you with love to all.especially, the cool cat..

  4. Rion Andrew Roberts says

    I met your father once and though the meeting was brief the impression he made has been long lasting. A sharp wit and the ability to effortlessly converse with total strangers all the while putting them at ease were clear signs of great journalistic acumen. Plus he was hoot. I always wished we could have talked more, it was clear he’d seen some cowboys and Indians in his life.

    We don’t see each other much anymore, but you’re often in my thoughts. Especially now.

  5. Sarah says

    Leslie I am so sorry to hear about your dad’s cancer. He sounds, after only a few paragraphs, like an amazing guy. xx

  6. little big / Carrie Anne says

    Moving and wonderful. Your Dad is amazing.

  7. jenny says

    my heart is so sad.
    sending you so much love, sweet dottie.
    wish i could be there to give you a giant squeeze.
    xoxoxoxo

  8. Emma P says

    He sounds like an amazing man, you are pretty blessed. Sending much love xxx

  9. Amber Liddle says

    SO So sorry to hear about your dad, he sounds like an amazing man. Your family is in my thoughts xoxo

  10. fuzzymama says

    I remember reading this piece last year and being so impressed with your Dad! An amazing man…sending you love and peace during this very difficult time. xxoo

  11. Brigitte says

    My dear Dottie: it is so difficult to deal with death of a parent . You have made the best decision , despite your busy life , to spend these last moments with your Dad and give comfort to your Mom. You will never regret it , considering how hard it must be for you, to be gone so long from your little girl .

  12. Lindsay says

    this is incredibly sweet. thinking of you and your family.

  13. babyshapes says

    Wow, I can’t believe he didn’t win! You have a WAY more impressive Daddy then most people and I’m so sorry that you are having to go through losing him. Sending thoughts of comfort and peace your way.

  14. rachel faucett says

    Dottie,

    I’m sorry that you’re going through this. Your dad is awesome!!!! I lost my dad April 12th of this year. I’m still in shock really. I’m thinking of you! I hope to see you soon!!!

    xoxo,

    Rachel Faucett
    Handmade Charlotte

  15. ashley says

    That line about you being the second most beautiful bride has me in tears. My heart aches for you. Please know there are a lot of people out there that have you in their thoughts. xo

  16. Alice says

    So sorry to hear of his passing. What an interesting person!



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