Besides coming in all shapes and sizes, dads are as unique as the men holding the title.
In another era it was enough for a father to work hard providing for his family, to be willing to serve his country if necessary, and to handle matters and people with honesty and courtesy. Being an example of responsible manhood was all anyone expected.
Today, though, the role of dad comes with a prerequisite list of qualifications and must-have capabilities. Whether you're gifted naturally or had a positive role model yourself doesn't matter.
If you're a man and you've sired a kid, you've got your work cut out for you. And if you mess up, you probably won't get much sympathy (like we moms get), because you're the man.
Dads really do fill a role that no one else can fill. So this week I asked readers and friends to share their favorite memories about their dads.
From Snelling, Kelly Bauer says: "Whoever was the first one up and dressed on Saturday mornings went with him to get doughnuts. The lucky one got a doughnut at the shop, with hot chocolate and whipped cream, in addition to having one at home."
As a boy, Lowell Young remembers his dad being on his case about everything. But once when Young came home crying after his friends called him "Loco," his dad reached out and pulled him close.
They talked for a few minutes, and finally his dad said: "Son, the only thing that matters is the truth, and in your heart of hearts you know what the truth is. If you're loco and you know you are, then accept that fact. If you're not loco and you know you're not, accept that fact, also. You need to learn to ignore what others say, because the truth is all that matters, not what others say or think about you."
It took a while for his words to sink in, Young said, but after they did, he was never bothered by what people called him. And in college when an old nickname followed him there, it brought attention from the girls, which he didn't mind at all.
My high school friend from Tucson, Ariz., Pam Williams, remembers pillow fights with her dad. He taught her how to maintain a car. And she almost ran him over while learning to parallel park, as he pretended to be the other car.
Of course, he spied on her during dates, and walked her down the aisle on her wedding day but later supported her when she chose to divorce. She has sat by his bedside after numerous surgeries, including when his heart stopped beating twice.
She'll never forget the look on his face as he held her mom's hand during her last hours on earth. Thankfully, he's still around and adding to her collection of father-daughter memories.
Mariposa's Joann Oswald didn't know her real father. For the first five years of her life, she suffered abuse by a male relative.
After his death, she gazed at the stars one night and recited the children's verse: "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight God, if you're up there, would you be my papa?" He's been a part of her life ever since.
Mariposa attorney James Lindsted remembers his dad this way:
"My father was killed in an automobile crash when I was 20. He was my mentor, my friend and my role model. I think whenever a person like that is taken from you, the recovery is never complete.
"I did get to go fishing and hunting with my dad and enjoyed every minute of it. So, when you have a person in your life who is that inspirational, you waste precious time, never to be replaced, by not taking advantage of time well spent."
It's not easy being a dad these days. And it's especially challenging to be an awesome dad. Whatever type of dad you are though, remember: Your family needs you, and your community needs you. We want you to be successful, so keep up the good work.
And happy Father's Day.
Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at email@example.com.