"When given full freedom, many men will piddle.So it is for middle-aged college professor Adam Cherry on Father’s Day. Alone for the day on his newly purchased horse farm in the Midwest, his two daughters and wife away or abroad, Adam finds excitement in an entire day to piddle awayhis Father’s Day gift to himself.But this day is one of challenges and interruptions. And each one helps him understand what Father’s Day is truly about.As Adam navigates his Father’s Day, the fatherly influences of seven male role models reveal themselves in the choices he makes, or avoids, and in the behavior he reveals. As the day winds down, he finds himself recalling his own father, and one particularly memorable Father’s Day many years ago.Through it all, the love Adam has found in his newfound rugged farm lifestyle shines through. He shares his passion and struggles as he learns to train horses, fish in his own pond, fix farm equipment, abate snakes, and wield a chainsaw. Though once resistant to his wife’s push to buy the farm, Adam comes to realize that he wanted it, or even needed it, as much as she did. It’s the simple joy he finds in rural life which reveals the man that his role models have made him.Adam’s voice is warm and likeable, and remarkably honest. This is a man seeing himself with clear eyes, with crudeness, impatience, recklessness, and anger intact. The edges are rough and the man is naked. It may not be pretty, but in a very real way, it is beautiful.My Father’s Day Gift is a tribute to the importance of male role models-fatherly influences-in the demonstrable character of a man. The influence comes not from lengthy conversations or direct instruction, but the distinct and impressionable moments in everyday interactions.Author David Andrews includes a preface that explains his reasons for writing such a story. His two appendices include a short list of the top ten ways to acknowledge the meaningful mentors in your life, including your father. The second appendix is a vital list of fathering and mentoring resources.My Father’s Day Gift is a salute not only to fathers everywhere, but to Father’s Day itself. But Andrews wrote this novel fundamentally for his own father, who passed away only five weeks after reading it.This book is published in his memory.Author David Andrews, one of the nation’s foremost experts on education and the impact of adults on the emerging lives of children, is Dean of the Johns Hopkins University’s top-ranked School of Education.As a professor at three major research universities, he has written extensively about the role of adults in parenting, educating, and shaping the future of children.Dr. Andrews is a highly regarded advocate for children and, as such, has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Champion of Children Award, National Family Advocate, and many others.Originally from Pensacola, Florida, where his father was a well-known newspaper publisher, and where he attended junior college, Andrews has spent his adult life on university campuses across the country. His undergraduate degree is from Auburn University, his masters from Kansas State University, and his doctorate from Florida State University. He has held professorial and administrative posts at Oregon State University and Ohio State University. He now holds appointments in both education and public health at Johns Hopkins University.He currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife Marti and their horses and dog. They have two adult children (both daughters).As he lectures and works with parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors around the world, Dr. Andrews continues to advocate for adults’ meaningful involvement in the lives of young people.
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About the Author
David Andrews, one of the nation’s foremost experts on education and the impact of adults on the emerging lives of children, is dean of the Johns Hopkins University top-ranked School of Education. As a professor at three major research universities, he has written extensively about the role of adults in parenting, educating, and shaping the future of children. Dr. Andrews is a highly regarded advocate for children and, as such, has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Champion of Children Award, National Family Advocate, and many others. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, where his father was a well-known newspaper publisher, and where he attended junior college, Andrews has spent his adult life on university campuses across the country. His undergraduate degree is from Auburn University, his master’s from Kansas State University, and his doctorate from Florida State University. He has held professorial and administrative posts at Oregon State University and The Ohio State University. He now holds appointments in both education and public health at Johns Hopkins University.
Read an Excerpt
MY FATHER'S DAY GIFT
By DAVID ANDREWS
Bancroft PressCopyright © 2014 David Andrews
All rights reserved.
I rise at my usual time (just shy of 4 a.m.) and do my usual, slow, full stretch. Hands raised toward the ceiling, I slightly arch my back and lift up onto my toes. My muscles are only slightly limbered by this routine, so I ease carefully down the stairs, placing both of my hands on the parallel rails to allow my old knees time to reluctantly adjust to the weight-bearing demands of a new day.
The two dogs, waiting patiently at the base of the stairs, are well accustomed to my creaky descent at this early hour and synchronously ease into their own versions of the downward and upward dog stretches favored by yoga enthusiasts. The dogs' leisurely stretching and uninspired demeanor suggest they have no particular agenda for the day—until I unlatch the back patio door and slide the glass wide open.
They instantaneously launch into a mad dash, converting from lazy hounds to crazed canines. It's the same escape every pre-dawn morning, silently chasing something too dark for me to see—a critter, I suppose. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and opossum are all abundant on our 20-acre horse farm, and I regularly see the dogs chasing nonnocturnal critters during the day. I assume the game plan's the same in the dark, early-morning hours.
Suddenly, a black blur streaks between one of my pajama-clad legs and the partly opened back door. Before I can react, a stench attacks my nostrils, and my stomach immediately sours. My "just a game" theory about the morning dash is instantly dispelled. The dogs were indeed after formidable prey—a skunk!
I quickly slide the door shut to block out the next stinking streak. The closed door keeps the next odor-transporter out, but it also locks in a smell so noxious that I pull the bottom of my t-shirt up to my nose to keep from gagging. The entire house smells of putrid skunk. The source of the smell—our dog Bo—is no longer in sight. There's little doubt he's trying to hide from me, his own smell, or both.
I turn in circles until I discover that I'm getting repeated whiffs of my own pajamas. I can't follow the scent to track down Bo because it's all around me. The single moment Bo rubbed past my pajama leg was enough to permeate the fabric and ensure a request to Santa for a new pair come Christmas.
Bo is a two-year-old pit bull rescue pup, purposely mislabeled a "boxer-lab mix" to facilitate adoption, and a timid soul who tries his very best to follow the rules. On the rare occasions when he's caught in a misdeed, he's consumed with guilt and contrition. You can see it in his ears, his posture, and most strikingly in his eyes. He's the "King of Cower." If he thinks he's in serious trouble, he immediately heads to the confines of the sofa and curls into his penance-requesting position.
"The new beige sofa!" I shout, realizing where I'll find Bo.
Unconvinced the smell could get any worse, I turn the corner toward the family room. The stench freezes me at the entrance. Scrunched deep into the corner of the just-purchased sofa is a shivering black ball of fur, dark eyes darting in panic, looking for some form of olfactory relief. Realizing that he can smell a stale potato chip on the floor thirty feet away, I can't imagine what's going on inside Bo's sensitive nose. My first reaction is to scream at the top of my lungs, "Get off the new sofa," but the immobilizing fear in his eyes fully registers just before I shout.
"Come on, Bo," I urge him quietly and kindly, hoping he'll slink toward me and the door without brushing against anything in his path. The gentle coaxing is in vain. Every step I take in his direction intensifies the aroma and the size of his round, black eyes.
As I approach, the t-shirt hem over my mouth and nose can no longer filter out the smell. I reflexively gag into the shirt. Fortunately, my stomach is empty and the heaves are mostly dry. I force myself to swallow a mouthful of acidic bile, figuring there'll be enough cleaning to do without spitting up on the carpet. The acid burns my throat, making me wonder what it does in my stomach. Are ulcers a foregone conclusion?
Fortunately, Bo is wearing his green paisley collar. I grasp it lightly, gently convince him to uncurl, and lead him off the sofa. A quick look and I'm briefly relieved it's no worse for the wear. Silly me. The damage to the sofa will leave no visual clue—purely an odious one.
Stooped and more firmly gripping his collar, I drag Bo forward. He takes a few unwilling steps across the carpet, then locks his legs and slides several feet as we cross over onto the hardwood floor. He finally relents and reluctantly shuffles his four paws forward. He knows we're headed to the door, and I suspect he fears that the odor-spewing demon is still outside.
Approaching the sliding patio door, I anticipate another problem. Lola, the Weimaraner who's usually first to return from the morning romp, is pressing her nose against the glass, peering inside at the action. It doesn't take incredible foresight to understand that one of two things will be the case: she has the same contaminated scent or, as soon as the door slides open a crack, she'll dash inside, rub past Bo, and acquire it, compelling me to scrub it from her gray coat. I've yet to determine how to get the scent off one dog and desperately wish to avoid any more canines needing to be deodorized.
I ease the door open just enough to shoo Lola away with a quick thrust of my slipper. It's not necessary. As soon as the door cracks open, she recoils in horror and bolts back into the darkness. It takes a moment to realize that the smell escaping from the house is now stronger than the odor outside.
With Lola out of the way, dragging Bo out onto the patio becomes a cinch. I quickly step back inside, close the door behind me, and watch as he shivers on the door mat, barely avoiding the spotlight illuminating the front half of our redbrick patio.
Lola and Bo are now outside inhaling the fresh morning air while I'm inside gagging. I wonder how far the scent has travelled in the house. Not only am I relieved that my wife Betty is away this Father's Day Sunday, but that I'll have time to get things back in some type of order before she returns tomorrow morning. How hard could it be? I'm not a Mr. Clean, but I've done my share of housework.
I decide to address the clean-up analytically and strategically, as any respectable university professor would, deducing that there are three places where the scent was most likely deposited: my left hand when it grabbed Bo's collar, my blue-striped pajamas, and the sofa. The pajamas and sofa can be easily removed from the house. The hand will take more effort. I decide to remove the sofa first, then the pajamas. This will allow me to handle everything that's been tainted prior to attempting to scrub the lingering scent off of my hands.
The easiest route to remove the sofa is out the front door. The double mahogany doors open wide. I momentarily worry about Bo rushing back in, but by now he's afraid of his shadow and I'm confident he's still sitting, shaking and petrified, on the edge of the back patio. Lola has already shown that she won't come near any entrance where the odor could seep out.
The sofa drags as easily across the hardwood floor as Bo and is on the front porch in minutes. I'm thankful it's an inexpensive sofa and not a pricey, heavy, fold-out sleepcouch. The image of the soiled sofa sitting on the front porch reminds me of college fraternity days when we strategically positioned a battered brown corduroy sofa on our apartment's front porch, allowing us both a comfortable beer-drinking and coed-watching position.
It's not yet daylight, so I decide to take my pajama bottoms off and leave them outside next to the sofa. The closest neighbor is nearly a mile away, so witnesses are unlikely. Returning inside, I stand pantless at the sink, furiously scrubbing my hands with soap. A quick sniff confirms that the flowery-smelling hand soap is no aromatic cure.
Didn't I read somewhere that juice removes skunk scent? Fruit juice? Apple? Orange? No, tomato juice! I approach the fridge, making certain to open the door with my non-scented right hand. There's apple, orange, and even strawberry-banana. No tomato.
I remember my Aunt Jane saying, with absolute certainty, that rubbing a handful of salt on your hands will remove your stinkiest smell. I open the pantry, again making sure to touch nothing with my contaminated hand. The big blue salt tube is close enough for me to grab with my clean hand. I pour a handful of salt into my cupped fingers, put down the tube, and begin rubbing my hands together. Repeating this exercise three more times, I'm hopeful that the smell has diminished. Another quick sniff of my left hand confirms that I'm wrong.
In desperation, I hit the liquor cabinet, searching for Bloody Mary mix. There it is—a full bottle of Mr. & Mrs. T. I'm tempted to get out the vodka as well, but am limited by having only one odor-free hand. I glance at the clock and vaguely remember once downing a vodka at 4:12 a.m. in my younger days. However, that was before going to bed, not after rising.
I set the Bloody Mary bottle on the counter, twist off the top, then pick it up with the same hand to pour out a generous amount. I scrub, repeat, and repeat again. This time, the sniff test is not too bad. Not odor free, but tolerable. The odor in the house lingers, even though I'm pretty sure that nothing else inside has been contaminated. Only one problem: While there may be enough Bloody Mary mix left in the bottle for a calming drink later, there's certainly not enough to clean Bo.
The iPad on the kitchen table should provide alternate remedies for deodorizing Bo. The sofa can wait. I sniff my hand before touching the delicate screen. How would you remove skunk juice from such a technologically sensitive surface? I wonder. I'm not sure how to remove fingerprints from the tablet, so I'd have no chance with skunk juice. I sniff the middle of my hand, then each digit, and determine that the smell on my fingertips is even fainter than the slight odor on the palm of my hand. Regardless, I Google "removing skunk odor" with the pointer finger of my odorless right hand.
The first site returned is that of a blogger who notes that vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are appropriate cleansers for skunk oil. Who blogs about cleaning? And who in hell blogs about cleaning skunk juice? In my current emergency, I only briefly question the blogger's credentials, and assume that all such bloggers are wise and practical.
I check the pantry, but there's only about half an inch of a $24 bottle of fine balsamic vinegar. It won't be nearly enough. Even if it were, it would leave the white spot on Bo's chest crimson. Likewise, I fear that the hydrogen peroxide would make his black coat match his white spot. I read on, and from the curiously detailed blog discover that an "over-the-counter douche" might do the trick.
My first thought: I never knew there was such a thing as a prescription douche. But there must be, given the blogger's need to make the distinction. Why, I wonder, would an overthe-counter douche be so much better at removing skunk oil than a controlled version?
It fascinates me for a moment how little I know about this feminine hygiene product. I've been married to the same woman for nearly thirty years and have never seen the inside of a douche box. I decide that this is a good thing.
Under Betty's counter in the bathroom? As I take quick and exaggerated strides up the stairs, I am physically reminded that I am still without pants. I detour into the bedroom and find yesterday's underwear and jeans crumpled on the floor next to the dresser, which may never again hold the pajama bottoms it stored the night before. I avoid the risk of contaminating the whole dresser. Instead of searching for new undies, I decide to re-wear yesterday's work clothes.
If Betty had been home, these clothes, used for mowing and weed-eating the day before, would already be washed, folded, and back in that same dresser drawer. The perspirationand-grass-stained remnants of Saturday's chores certainly wouldn't be piled beside the same bed in which I'd slept. Yesterday's clothes, I decide, no longer contend for the worstsmelling items in the house, and I slip them back on.
I continue my douche search while again pondering how little I know about the product. Seems like I saw a box bearing the name somewhere in the house, but isn't it a bag? After all, kids jokingly calls each other "douche bags" when bantering, so a bag must be involved.
The douche box is exactly where I remembered seeing it, under the left-hand side of Betty's bathroom cabinet just beside the sink. The logo is so familiar. I've seen the ad for this product many times, but it was years ago and so subtle in guaranteeing "freshness" that I didn't know it was describing a douche.
"Douchebags," I mutter in reference to the marketing team that put the ad together, chuckling at my own lame joke.
I rip open the box expecting to find something exotic. It turns out that the bag is just a bag and calling someone a "douchebag" suddenly has very little meaning. It appears that the "bag" is not necessary unless you're going to use the douche in a very specific location. Bo's coat won't require such precision, and I decide to use a bucket instead.
I grab the shampoo from the shower and hustle back downstairs to retrieve a bucket from the laundry room, after which I head out onto the patio, where Bo still stands motionless in the dark. On a normal day, he runs from a bath, but today he's been paralyzed by his pre-dawn experience. After three application-and-rinse cycles with my wife's douche and another three with her shampoo, he remains scented, but in a much better and more familiar way. Fortunately, I'm not aroused.
As soon as I release him from the death grip that held him in place while bathing him, he heads into the darkness of the front pasture. I know from the tinkling sound of the tags on his collar that he's rolling his wet fur in the damp morning grass. I can only hope he hasn't decided that a fresh pile of horse manure is a better option than the douche.
It's not yet daylight, but I suddenly feel behind schedule— I've already lost precious time. The fear of procrastination that drove me from bed at four o'clock is back. It's already 5:20 and there's so much I want to do.
I dearly miss Betty when she's gone, but like most guys, I cherish the chance to experience certain freedoms rarely available during thirty years of marriage. Not freedoms that prompt me to stay out all night chasing young girls or drinking heavily, though a few beers and a cigar out by the pond aren't entirely out of the question. I'm much too old for such shenanigans, and I could never make my wake-up call should I attempt such things.
What I'm referring to is the freedom of a full day with no outside influence on my decisions. I can make my own choices and craft my own agenda, or have no agenda at all if I so please. That's the cherished gift of a fifty-five year old gentleman farmer left alone on his 20 acres. No "honey do" list today.
While I lack a formal list, there are dozens of things I've been saving for this day. None would have made Betty's top ten priorities. Weeding flower beds, changing light bulbs, and washing the horses' water buckets are necessary and important tasks, but they can't compare with the things I have in mind.
Unlike her structured list, my list is a more random set of items that I've been wanting to accomplish "when I can find the time." I've never written them down or mentioned them to anyone. Some are big tasks. Others are very small. None is essential. Writing them down or communicating them in any way as an official list would redefine them as much less enjoyable.
In essence, they are "piddle."
When given full freedom, many men will piddle. That's what women call it when our priorities don't match theirs and the results are not as immediately obvious as they expect.
In my experience, the trick is to learn how to buy time, or earn "piddle points." It's sleight of hand learned only after years of marriage. I routinely scan the "honey do" list for things that appear to have grand, visible outcomes, but that take less time to accomplish than would be expected by someone who's never attempted the task and overestimates its complexity—typically one's wife. Completing these tasks with enthusiasm and pride early in the day, though not too quickly, deposits considerable piddle points into a guy's weekend ledger.
No need for such relationship games today. I've got all the piddle points I need and all day to piddle them away. It's my Father's Day gift to myself, but one whose mere acknowledgement would offend the loved ones unintentionally providing it with their absence. From my standpoint, their psyches will be best served if they spend the day feeling guilty that their busy lives left me all alone on such a big, important day.
One item on my morning agenda won't be altered, though—coffee! All of my adult life, I've made a fresh pot of coffee every morning before sunrise.
Monday, July 16, 1979
He was staring out the trailer window into the darkness when I awoke with my eyes burning from the tobacco smoke. We now refer to them as "mobile homes," but in the south in the late 1970s, political correctness wasn't necessarily extended to the white, working poor. It was still acceptable, at least where I grew up, to openly acknowledge that a loved-one lived in a trailer.
Excerpted from MY FATHER'S DAY GIFT by DAVID ANDREWS. Copyright © 2014 David Andrews. Excerpted by permission of Bancroft Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Preface: A Legacy of Inspiration vii
Honoring Mentors 247
Getting Involved 251
About the Author 257
What People are Saying About This
"This is not a book for the faint of heart or those who enjoy a leisurely story! It will be loved by those who crave action, suspense, non-stop drama, dark magic and shadows of horror. A high octane thriller that jumps into the pulsing heart of the story from the very first word!" Regina Sirois, Winner of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for On Little Wings
"BLOOD MOON is a novel with a fantastic plot, intriguing characters and tons of witchy delight. And just in time for summer reading season ... it would be great to bring along on any vacation or just to enjoy poolside." Tess Hilmo, award-winning author of With a Name Like Love