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Four Years at the Mount

With the fast approaching holiday, we gave our writers the theme of Father's day. Here, we give overdue honors to the special men in our lives and remind us all to celebrate our own fathers.

Father's Day

June 2017

Ice cream dad

Angela Tongohan
MSM Class of 2020

My dad loves the month of June, partially because it is his birth month, and partially because of Fatherís Day. I canít say I blame him. If we think about it, there are a handful of holidays that mainly celebrate the woman in a relationship: Motherís Day, Valentineís Day, Thanksgiving (because of the dinner), and a few selected for their own unique reasons. A man is only really celebrated during two occasions: their birthday and Fatherís Day, granted that they are, in fact, a father.

Well, my dad always insisted on celebrating his birthday and Fatherís Day during two separate weekends, despite them being only a few days apart.

I always struggled during Fatherís Day. I reached the age of eleven without a father figure in my life. My parents were the unfortunate victims of a messy divorce, and after an amicable reunion, agreed that I was better off growing up without switching from one household to another.

When my mother married my stepdad, my world turned upside down. It was bizarre, a new person in the house. It meant an extra seat to set at the dinner table, another person to fight over the remote control with. It meant another car in our driveway, crazy rock music blasting at eight in the morning, and a whole other personís junk sprawled all over our house.

He arrived during my prepubescent years, so it is safe to say that the transition was not the smoothest in history. But I did learn a very important lesson, and that was to love unconditionally.

I did not think it was possible for me to love anyone as much as I loved my mother, especially not someone who was not my own blood. But I learned to love him. He taught me how to drive, how to fix cars. He picked me up from school whenever I needed to stay for extracurricular, and he attended the school meetings my mom couldnít attend.

He learned and remembered things about me; the small things, the things I appreciated most. When I was still in high school, I used to dedicate my Monday nights to watching sad movies. I called it Sad Movie Monday. My dad used to buy buckets of mint chocolate chip ice-cream and boxes of Drumsticks Sunday night because he knew how much ice-cream cheered me up.

I did not realize how big of a part my stepdad played in my life until the summer of 2016 when he went to the Philippines for a month. It was the first time since my parents got married that I didnít see him for longer than a few days.

Everything seemed off. My mom went to sleep early. Everyone was able to sleep in without being woken up by crazy loud music in the morning. Cans of coke no longer littered the kitchen, and the line of neatly shined shoes sat untouched.

There was something missing in our lives. And I eventually realized that was my dad.

This year is the first year that I wonít be around for the month of June. As an attempt to try and become a more independent woman, I have packed my summer schedule with a full-time job and summer classes. I spend barely any time at home. Motherís Day was not nearly as lustrous and I donít expect Fatherís Day to be any more spectacular.

But despite the fact that I wonít be around as much as Iíd like to, I do sincerely appreciate him, as I think many of us appreciate our fathers. He was always around when I needed someone to talk to. He was always around to fix the things I broke, and he watched corny action movies with me.

I do wish the best for my dad. He has become as much a part of my life as a real dad would have. Their efforts may not be as obvious as those of our mothers, for example, in my house, my mother usually cooks meals and cleans the house. My mother is also the one who seems most in touch with feelings and sensing problems.

My dad does not necessarily show emotions. He doesnít ask me how I am doing or how I am feeling or whether I am sad or angry or lonely. He doesnít hover, he doesnít prod. He is there. He hands me a bowl of ice-cream whenever he thinks I am sad, or he shows me the tulips he helped grow in the garden because he knows they are my favorite flowers.

Dads are our role models because of how much they hold the household together. He doesnít complain or rant like my mother does, but instead silently walks into the house with tired eyes. He doesnít complain because he has accepted his role of being the patriarch of the family.

I love my dad. And although we fight, and although we donít talk as much as I do to my mother, I know that he loves me.

And how do I know, you may ask? He doesnít say it often, I can tell you that.

Whenever I come home, he will be sitting on the couch, two bowls of ice cream sitting on the coffee table, a poorly made action movie playing on the T.V.

He wonít say anything, but he doesnít have to.

I love you, dad. Happy Fatherís Day.

Read other articles by Angela Tongohan


Fatherís Day Films

Michael Kenney Jr.
MSM Class of 2019

"Luke, I am your father" -Darth Vader, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

After the golf clubs are set aside, his Bass Pro Shop gift card is spent, and the grill cools down, must Fatherís Day come to a close? Of course not! This year, cap off the traditional Fatherís Day agenda with a celebration of cinemaís greatest fathers. I encourage you to pop some popcorn, sit down with your dad and enjoy some of the best Fatherís Day films of all time.

If you can only carve out enough time for one film this Fatherís Day, I would highly recommend the 2005 sports drama, Cinderella Man. Based on an impressively true story, the film follows the underdog Irish-American boxer, J.J. Braddock (Russell Crowe). It follows his fight to provide for his family and seize the heavyweight title amidst the hard-hit streets of New Jersey during the Great Depression. Through victory and heartbreak, the story celebrates the role of fatherhood as an enduring position of strength, resilience, loyalty and ómost of allólove. Braddock epitomizes fatherhood and provides an inspiring example of ideal masculinity.

The 2000 film The Patriot earns another high spot on my list of Fatherís Day favorites as it advocates for the same style of the fatherhood that Cinderella Man presents. As a legendary French and Indian War veteran, widower and father of seven children, Francis Marion (Mel Gibson) gains a greater appreciation for his children and sister-in-law as he risks everything to protectóand eventually avengeóhis sons throughout the Revolutionary War. Like Cinderella Manís Braddock, Marion hones his cleverness, morality and sheer strength to defend his family and as a result, represents an archetypal father.

The 1997 Italian film Life is Beautiful drives home an equally respectable portrayal of fatherhood. The film tells the tale of a free-spirited, Jewish librarian named Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) living in 1939 Italy. When Orefice and his son are captured and placed in a concentration camp, the father uses his wit, imagination and kind heart in his attempts to preserve his childís innocence. The film illustrates the profound inspiration men have in exuding courageous joy, particularly in the face of abject circumstances. Nominated for seven Academy Award, the film promises cinematic excellence alongside its powerful message.

To pay comedies their due respect, Mrs. Doubtfire, Cheaper by the Dozen ,and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 promote the idea of the attentive father. While some critics may suggest that both films flirt with the clichťd "bumbling father" caricature, the protagonists should not be hastily categorized. Each father undergoes significant character arcs and, similarly to Life is Beautifulís Orefice, the fathersí humor often plays a significant, intentional role in easing family tensions encouraging familial unity.

In the 1993 Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) plays a goofy voice actor who struggles to hold down a job. When his no-nonsense wife Miranda (Sally Field) divorces him, Daniel, is who is unemployed and without a fit home, is deemed an ill-fit father and thus has no custody over his two children. With the visitation rights in place Daniel struggles to spend time with his children. With the help of friends and his skills as a former voice actor he concocts a false identity as a stout sixty-year-old nanny named Mrs. Doubtfire. Miranda hires Mrs. Doubtfire, giving Daniel practically full access to his children. As a nanny, Daniel gains a unique perspective into his childrenís lives and consequently realizes his faults as a father and former husband. Daniel works diligently to reverse his mistakes with humor and humility. Mrs. Doubtfire is a worthy addition to your list of Fatherís Day hopefuls because, while allowing for uproarious family fun, the film illustrate the ridiculous extent of a fatherís love. Mrs. Doubtfire renders a particularly honorable example of a father in a broken marriage because, while Daniel continues to pursue Miranda and tries to rectify their relationship, he always respects his former wife and never allows his bitterness to interfere with his relationship with his children.

The fatherhood presented both in Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 allows for light-hearted family fun and conveys the serious impact that a father has on his familyís well-being. In the first of the series, Tom earns his dream job, forcing his family to move, just as his wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) prepares for the release of her projected bestseller. As Kate embarks on her nation-wide book tour, Tom juggles the demands of his new job, a new neighborhood and his rambunctious twelve children. Ultimately, Tom must choose between the luxuries of his dream job and the welfare of his kids. In Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Tom finds himself again in a similar situation. Tempted by his paternal pride, Tom hopes defeat his long-time rival in the Annual Labor Day Family Cup. Yet again, he is forced to choose between bolstering his ego or aiding his family. Both Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 illustrate the power of a father who surrenders his professional and personal ambition for the welfare of his family and the raw joy that comes from building unique relationships with each individual child.

Looking for more Fatherís Day films? Rounding out my Fatherís Day favorites include Finding Nemo, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Way, The Godfather, The Lion King series, the Taken series, and my dadís personal favoriteóMadagascar: Escape 2 Africa. So this Fatherís Day, surprise your dad with an evening of films dedicated to him and the unique role of fathers everywhere.

Read other articles by Michael Kenney Jr.


To give praise where it is due

Sarah Muir
Class of 2018

A quote by Billy Graham states, "A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." Because of this and the approaching holiday I propose to sing, praise, and notice fathers. Who are they, what are they do and what makes a "good" one.

The idea of Fatherís Day has a long history dating back to Saint Josephís Day (March 19) during the Middle Ages. However, it found its way to America at the beginning of the 20th century. Unlike Motherís Day, which has roots dating all the way back to the pre-Civil War America, Fatherís Day was first received with lukewarm indifference. It first began in West Virginia as a day to commemorate the 362 men who had perished in a coal mining explosion the previous December. With the insistence and support of Sonora Smart Dodd, it was celebrated as a holiday in Washington. She was raised by her father, a civil war veteran and single parent of six children and through her efforts the first celebration was held at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910.

The idea spread slowly around the country, being recognized by President Wilson in 1916 and later in 1924 President Coolidge advocated that Fatherís Day be observed by the states. The holiday was found to have garnered less support than its counterpart, Motherís Day. This was due in part to the sentimentality built around mothers and it was not until after World War II however when Fatherís Day was widely accepted and not until 1972 when it was declared a federal holiday.

It is easy to take good parents for granted and even though I try not to, it happens. We can sometimes forget the sacrifices our parents made; the blood, sweat, and tears that they gave to raise us. That is why we carve out one day of the year for them. One day to recognize the unconditional love of a parent, maybe with a bouquet of flowers and a heartfelt card. I am blessed to have the examples I have in my own life, between both my grandfathers and my dad I find myself startled at the high bar that they have set in their wake. For girls it is a fact of life that a father is a template by which all other men are compared. My father is among the most generous and most wonderful that have ever breathed, which is a bias I share with my sister.

To us, he has been a protector, a teacher and an adviser (even though we do not always take the advice given). Both of us have known a father that has done anything and everything for his daughters and even more for his wife. Throughout our lives we both have had a model of what a father and a husband should be. However, I find that father can be too cold a definition because I know that forever and always he is our daddy. There is a cross-stitch sampler that my mom made as a teenager for her own father which reads, "Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a daddy." He has made my sister and I stronger, smarter and more faith-filled individuals.

Fatherís Day also gives an opportunity to celebrate the father figures in our lives; men who we look up to and respect because of their generous and paternal nature. I remember a priest one time remarked about the paradigm of the holy family and recalled how Fatherís Day also recognizes those that are our family in everything, but blood. God gives many examples on how to be, but Joseph can be overlooked. In him we see an example of fatherly love that has little to do with blood. He gives the protection, security, and unconditional love of a parent to a child that is not his own.

Fathers are important and knowing them and having stories about them is something to be treasured. My grandmother talks of her father a lot and of how close they were. She speaks often of what they would laugh at together, or how they would disagree over baseball players, how he would leave a shaker of salt by the garden in case anyone fancied a fresh tomato. Family histories, these small little stories breathes life into these memories.

I have been thinking about fathers a lot recently; fathers and luck. Mostly how lucky I am to have the father figures in my life. I have no one answer for "how to be a good father," mostly because I am not (nor will ever be) one myself. I do not think there is a rule book or manual that can help navigate the tumultuous waters of fatherhood. I am sure that any dad could tell you that fatherhood is a baptism by fire, figure-it-out-as-it-happens, type of life. So, this Fatherís Day, after the hallmark card and gift certificate and cake, remember that it does not nor should it end there. Every day we should recognize the men in our lives that have been there for us through thick and thin, with the unconditional love only a dad can have.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir


Terminal C Reflections

Leanne Leary
MSM Class of 2017

For the past few years, Iíve included an airport article at least once a year. There is something unique, fleeting and exciting about being in an airport, and so writing in one has to be special, at least I think it must. So, here I am in an airport awaiting my flight to Haiti. I waited for this moment to write partially for sentimental purposes partially for purposes of reminiscing on my love for procrastination all throughout college.

In an attempt to make this a little easier for anyone reading, Iím going to need to explain myself a bit. It is the month of Fatherís Day for our column, I just graduated so maybe I donít fit into that column anymore, I just commissioned and am leaving shortly for my first orders as an Army officer, and Iím currently on my way to Haiti for the wait time in between. Now, if you read to the end youíll see how I make all of this fit together, but if you get confused along the way just bear with me, please.

First, Iíll explain my airport ramblings. I call an airport unique, fleeting, and exciting, though I recognize they are more often than not busy, overcrowded and frustrating. So, I admit check-in lines, security waits and changing terminals arenít ideal and probably hold nothing worth reflection. However, once you find your gate and sit down, something does happen. You are sitting simply waiting on an adventure, literally, as you probably run through mental checklists of what you forgot, and would happen if you actually did forget, checking timelines, charging your phone, but if even for one second you stop to just wait, thatís where the magic is. Again, you sit awaiting a chariot taking you to your next adventure, leaving one place for an entirely new one, knowing that you probably canít just drive home if you donít love it. Some combination of those factors makes it worth the chaos of an airport. Whether itís knowing you canít turn back, the anxiousness that pairs itself with another town, or the simple fact of remembering your mortal nature before you get into a tube that will fly tens of thousands of feet above the ground, it is the perfect recipe for reflection. I, like most, have plenty to reflect upon.

I graduated, commissioned, and am preparing to leave for my first orders. Though I know that these events are huge, I learned a huge lesson through it all and through the last few months. It is all exciting in its own right, but I donít care too much about the formalities of a commencement ceremony or the diploma that will shortly come in the mail. What I found is I care much more about the people who sat in the auditorium and watched my take my oath of office, the people who came and helped me carry my things out of graduation because I was on crutches, and the people who will move from that stage of my life to the next. The one who deserves special attention, then, is my Dad.

Okay, so this may seem a little formulaic at this point but I swear this all actually works this way.

My Dad, a man of few words, is perhaps my biggest influence in all that I do to include the events of the past few weeks. I know Iíve written about my dad before, but I shy away from it because I donít think I can do it justice. Heís hard to explain, sometimes hard to understand, but has pushed me further than any other person could have. He checks my oil before I take a trip, last night he went out in the middle of the night because my check engine light came on hours before I had to drive to the airport, he cooked chicken for 50 people at my graduation party this weekend, but he is more.

He actually said "Why didnít you get a 100" almost every day of high school when I told him I got a 97 on a math test. And, he meant it. He knew who I was before I did, but never told me, simply pushed me. Believe me, I didnít like it. I think we probably fought at least a few times a week from age 14-18, but looking back I understand it all (people always say that happens, and I hate that they are right).

So, letís come full circle. Military, airports, Dad, Haiti Ė it all comes together.

Last week at my commissioning ceremony, the first thing that I saw when the formal part came to an end and I stepped down to say hi to everyone was my Dad smiling. Remember, what Iíve said about my Dad above and before. The man does smile, but this was something Iíve never seen before. I saw everything come together looking at my Dad, who smiled more that day than he does in a day of driving his boat around, which is his favorite activity. He was truly and genuinely proud, and he has been this whole time. So, here is a short story in recognition of silence and the Dads who say less, but mean the most.

My final thoughts here in Terminal C are then this: Iím awaiting a trip to Haiti, where Iíll continue the chaos, return right before my orders to Ft. Lee begin, and then start my military life. All of this Iíll do knowing that the tube Iím getting in to take me to my next adventure isnít very important, but the people around me are. Oh, and my Dad is proud.

Told you it would make sense, kind of.

Read other articles by Leanne Leary

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