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Remembering my Dad on Father's Day and Every Day

Updated on November 11, 2014

Memories of my Father: An Army Man and So Much More

The memories come in snippets of images, some summoned, some not, and they occur every day and not just on Father's Day. But Father's Day, with all the media attention and rows of cards lining grocery shelves, intensifies the memories and creates a holiday collage.

My father was many things. He was a young boy born in Kankakee, Illinois in October of 1917. He grew up and became a "college man." He became an officer in the Army. He was a romantic man. He met my Mom in Philadelphia during World War II. He called every number in the city that belonged to my mother's last name when she gave him her phone number and wrote one number wrong. He sent her orchids every day the first month he courted her and they filled the refrigerator. He married her a few months later in North Carolina with my mother's mother and the postman as witnesses.

He was an Army officer and served in World War II and the Korean conflict. He was a mechanical engineer and an inventor. He worked for NASA from Apollo through the early stages of the space shuttle program. He was a firecracker; he worked in pyrotechnics at NASA. He was a set designer and play director. He was a business manager for 25 years for the local community theater. He was a family man and married for 63 years. He was a son, an uncle, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather. He was an animal lover, always. My dad was many things, but most of all, he was my dad.

William H. Simmons

William H. Simmons
William H. Simmons

15 Things I remember about my Dad

  1. I remember my Dad coming home from Korea. He was in uniform and walking up the driveway, coming toward us. I was standing on a chair with my nose pushed against the living room window of my grandmother's house. I was 3 years old.
  2. I remember my Dad sitting at the table at the local beer garden in Frankfort, Germany and handing me the cute cork with the goat standing on its hind legs from his bottle of beer. I strung them together to make little necklaces and bracelets. We both loved the weinerschnitzle. I was 4 years old.
  3. I remember my Dad walking our German Shepherd, Asta, when we lived with my grandmother after we came back from Germany. Asta had served with him in Korea. He would take her out every day and would spend hours training her. I was 6 years old.
  4. I remember my Dad helping me make a mock up of the Apollo space module for my science school project. I was 9 years old.
  5. I remember my dad working for NASA during the early days and the signed photograph of the original 7 astronauts he gave me for my birthday. I think I was 13 years old.
  6. I remember my dad being so proud of himself when he created my electric light costume for me to wear in my role in Guys and Dolls. He'd rigged up the light switch to fit inside a pillbox hat and then had the lights attached to my costume with the handheld on and off button to rest in my palm. I was 16.
  7. I remember my Dad loving the funny gadget and "executive" Christmas gifts we would give him and how he'd smile and tinker with them before he shared them with the rest of us. I remember the first "executive" gift, I was in my late teens. .
  8. I remember my dad laughing at Christmas the year he had a beard and my daughter didn't recognize him and didn't want to sit by him. I was in my 20s.
  9. I remember my dad sneaking outside to smoke cigarettes because he'd promised he'd quit. I was in my late 20s.
  10. I remember my dad making his famous Artillery Punch for his party guests when he and mom hosted the cast parties. It was a gallon of this and a gallon of that. It was some kind of stout. He loved making that punch and then telling the ingredients to any poor soul who asked. I was in my 30s.
  11. I remember my dad asking me and a friend to dinner after we'd taken my mom to the hospital because she'd had a heart attack. He'd wanted company and wanted to talk. We sat down and he realized he'd left his hearing aid at home. I was in my late 30s.
  12. I remember my dad being so proud of the fact that I was the first one in his family to earn a Masters degree. He had gone to college but never did any postgraduate work. I was in my late 40s.
  13. I remember my dad when he was on 24-hour oxygen and how he'd pad to the kitchen refrigerator and complain about the "long tail" that followed him everywhere and then laugh. I was in my 50s.
  14. I remember my dad giving me a Smithsonian catalog and asking me to order this Black Egyptian cat statue for my mom. He was worried that he'd waited too late. He was so happy when it arrived the day before Christmas. (It was the last gift that he ever chose for my Mom. He died a few months later.)
  15. I remember my Dad for all these memories and so much more. He continues to live in my heart and mind today.

NASA: The Complete Illustrated History
NASA: The Complete Illustrated History

My dad worked for NASA and his history is woven into the fabric of our space mission from Apollo through the beginning of the Space Station. Great history of the program.

 

Daddy and Karen

Daddy and Karen
Daddy and Karen

Father's Day - Keeping the Memory Alive

William H Simmons was my Dad

My dad is gone now but I still have an abundance of memories that continue to keep him alive. During the last phase of his life, our roles seemed to reverse as I, as he jokingly said, became his "eyes and ears" and his "mouthpiece."

I remember the day we went to get his last driver's licence renewal. He was 88. It wasn't that he'd been driving much but he was determined to get it renewed. We went to the renewal office. We were both relieved that there weren't any lines. We walked right up and began the process. I held my breath as the lady went through all the required questions. Would she give it to him? What if she didn't? What would he do? A few minutes later we were back in the car and on the way home, my holding onto the paperwork for his new license.

He never drove his car again. He never said anything. He just always asked me to drive.

William H. Simmons

William H. Simmons
William H. Simmons
Fun gift for Dads
Fun gift for Dads

Fun Gift for Dad

For the Dad who has everything - Father's Day gifts

Natico Decision Maker and Paper Weight (60-2622)

My dad always enjoyed a good laugh and Christmas we would go out of our way to find hokey, fun executive gifts to give him. Of course we'd then have the cameras ready to capture his first reaction. He'd have a blast with this. He'd be asking questions and taking it around the room. It's definitely a memory stimulator. If he was still with us, this is one I might give him.

Newton's Cradle, Newton's Balls, Balancing Balls Classic Gag Gift for Father's Day
Newton's Cradle, Newton's Balls, Balancing Balls Classic Gag Gift for Father's Day

My Dad Loved Newton's Cradle - The Classic Desktop Gift

Fun gifts for Dad always topped our gift-giving lists

Newton's Cradle - Newton's Cradle, 7.0" [Toy]

I remember giving my dad Newton's Cradle. I was about 18 years old. Sometimes called "Balance balls," Newton's Pendulum or even "Newton's Balls," it's been around for years. Basically, it's a set of swinging balls that you set in motion and that will keep your mind occupied. Being the inventor and engineer, that he was, my dad enjoyed the fact that this has a pendulum. You just lift one of the balls and let it go. When the ball returns to its former position and strikes the ball next to it, the ball at the other end swings out. It didn't hurt that it also showed the Laws of Conservation of Momentum and Energy.

It was 1967 when this gift showed up on the gift-giving scene. It looked so "formal," all chrome and black. And it used science principles. An English actor named Simon Prebble invented Newton's Cradle. Since the device operates on Newton's principles, he named it in the scientist's honor. My dad, being an inventor himself, thoroughly enjoyed this gift. I found it recently in his room on his desk. He still had it out after all these years.

Gag gifts for Father's Day
Gag gifts for Father's Day

Gag Gift for Father's Day

Examples of Father's Day gag gifts, more fun gifts for Dad

Executive gag gifts like this "decision-maker," would be another riff on the type I would get my dad. Do they have a serious function? Not really. Unless you consider that the time your mind plays with a gadget or gift like this allows space for your decision to form in your mind. Sometimes these gifts allows our subconscious to participate and help in the decision-making process. Did my dad think that? Probably not. For him they were was just fun, but for us they provided moments filled with family laughter that we remember to this day. Are gag gifts worth it? I think so.

All photographs in this article are provided by Vikk Simmons and copyrighted with all rights reserved. Please contact me if you wish to use them.

Share your memory of your day on this Father's Day - I always enjoy hearing from my readers.

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    • Vikk Simmons profile image
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      'Vikk Simmons 3 years ago from Houston

      @Lorelei Cohen: Exactly right, Lorelei. Thank you for your kind words.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 3 years ago from Houston

      @David Stone1: Oh, thank you so much. I so appreciate your thought.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      There are some parents who are just so wonderful that it is difficult to explain the respect and love that we have for them. You got that point across with every special little memory. My parents visit me in memories as well. They are always a part of our lives no matter how long they are gone.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      I think your Dad was lucky to have a smart articulate daughter to make him immortal, at least on the internet.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 3 years ago from Houston

      @SimonJay: Thank you, SimonJay. He was that and so much more. :)

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 3 years ago from Houston

      @Brite-Ideas: Thank you, Brite-Ideas.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 3 years ago from Houston

      @esmonaco: I know what you mean, esmonaco. The memories don't die as long as we tend to them.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      A wonderful tribute to your dad, thanks for sharing all your dad. Ther isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my dad.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      a beautiful dedication for your dad, lovely

    • SimonJay profile image

      SimonJay 3 years ago

      Wow sounds like a man of many achievements. All the best.

    • ReviewsfromSandy profile image

      Sandy Mertens 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Beautiful and touching.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 5 years ago from Houston

      @GrowWear: Thank you very much.

    • littlelotus profile image

      littlelotus 6 years ago

      love it Vikk :).... it makes me remember my dad too..... he's far away in Jakarta.... :(... miss him so much... :) thanks for sharing ur story with us.....what a great dad u have:)

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 5 years ago from Houston

      @anonymous: Thanks. I appreciate you reading about my dad and sharing in my memories.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 5 years ago from Houston

      @TapIn2U: Thank you, and thank you for taking the time to read about my dad.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 5 years ago

      A very touching lens. Thank you for sharing your memories about your Dad. Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beautiful Lens. Thanks for sharing :) I felt very touched.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @Virginia Allain: I wonder if you might put this into a book (like you can make with Blurb), add more photos of your Dad and give the book to your family members for a special occasion. Blurb lets you order just 1 or 2 books if that's all you want.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @GrowWear: Thank you very much. I'm so my intent is being captured.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @cinnie2: Thank you for the nice comments and touching remembrane of your dad.

    • profile image

      cinnie2 6 years ago

      I was so touched by the memories of your dad, Vikk. He sounds like he was a really special guy and you enjoyed a wonderful bond with him. What a blessing.

      I love the photos and I think you wear his smile. :)

      I'm sorry I missed this on Father's day,but glad I saw it today. Makes me miss my dad, but renews my appreciate for him too.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 6 years ago

      You've given your readers a heartwarming picture of a wonderful father here.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @littlelotus: So sorry you're dad is so far away but he is in your heart and that's important, too. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. It means so much.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @sheilamarie78: Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the lens. :)

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
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      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @changediapers: Thank you so much. I'm so glad it triggered such wonderful memories of your own. That is beautiful.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Wonderfully related memories of your dad. I feel as if I'd known him! My dad was a very special part of my life, and that of my children, and I miss him dearly, especially his terrific sense of humor and playful teasing. Maybe next year I'll do a tribute to him too.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thanks, that's areal compliment to feel as if you know my dad. I look forward to reading your tribute.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad my work triggered memories for you, too.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 6 years ago

      Beautifully put together lens, Vikk! Of course you got me to thinking about my Dad, too. . . .

    • profile image

      changediapers 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed this, I found it very touching! Some of my favorite memories of my Dad were going roller skating with him & him buying me a cherry coke and saying "don't tell Mom!" Him teaching me to ride a bike (and drive!), going on hikes and having total confidence in him, only to find out we were lost, LOL...

      My Dad walking me down the aisle at my wedding. Seeing my Dad hold my daughter for the first time! Oh no, now I'm teary eyed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a lovely tribute to your dad. I miss my dad, and this brought lots of fond memories for for me. Thank you for sharing your stories and photos.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Ah, our families will appreciate the gift of these words long after other gifts have worn out or gone to the garage sale. You've done a great job of honoring his memory.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Beautifully written. I read every word. A great tribute to your dad! Thanks for sharing your memories.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @Joan4: Thank you, Joan. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about him-and I owe it all to you and your inspiration earlier today. :) Can't wait to read your Father's Day article.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image
      Author

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      @ohcaroline: Thank you. I do miss him. But it's fun allowing the memories to come forward like I did today.

    • profile image

      Joan4 6 years ago

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading your sweet memories of your Dad. What a beautiful tribute! I loved the way you took us through your life with him. Great format and such a nice read!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      You look a lot like him. He sounds like a great dad and this is a wonderful to keep memories alive and in print.