Finding Meaning

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Remembering Dad

By Skip Hellewell

Last Sunday’s baccalaureate, the religious service that honors our graduating seniors, made a big impression. Held in Laguna Presbyterian Church’s lovely chapel, students read scripture important to them, sang songs of inspiration, and spoke. Seniors Caleb Hardy and Will Clark told of faith and its importance in their lives. A rabbi, pastor, and priest also talked, but the seniors were the stars of the night. Wish I could say more about these exceptional kids, but we need to do justice to Father’s Day.

Dads are regular everyday guys who become heroes by dedicating their lives to a cause bigger than themselves—their families. Could I tell about my own dad? When he was in the first grade, he nearly died from the combined attack of several childhood diseases that settled in his hip, destroying the joint. He was a cripple until the Shriners’ children’s hospital in San Francisco fused his hip, which allowed him to start high school on his feet, though with a swinging gait that caused back pain later in his life.

He put away his crutches, learned dancing at a nickel-a-dance joint in Sacramento, and met the love of his life at a church dance. Together they reared 10 children, seven of their own plus three from his brother who were orphaned. He was a humble guy, didn’t make a lot of money, even gave the impression that too much money might not be good for a family.

As long as I can remember, he had a vegetable garden in his backyard. After the day’s work as a bookkeeper, he could be found in his garden, caring for his plants. Grandchildren loved the garden because, after the obligatory greeting and hug, there was the joy of eating unwashed fruit and vegetables right off the plant. In the evening, he would be in his easy chair, reading a book, often on a religious topic, and listening to recordings of his favorite music, usually classical. Wednesday nights he baked bread to-die-for using fresh whole-wheat flour from a hand-grinder. He passed 14 years ago. I think of him a lot.

The value of dads to a home is they’re different from moms. Dads stand for justice; misbehavior will bring consequences. Moms stand for mercy; kids know to see her when in trouble.

The love of a dad is important, but the roughhousing and strong hugs can leave bruises. Not so with mom, whose tender nurturing dates back to your birth. If you lose a fight at school, mom will give sympathy. Dad is more likely to get you some exercise equipment, to build strength.

Dads are supportive of risk-taking; moms are about safety. Here’s an example. I worked in construction the summer after high school and wanted to buy a motorcycle with my earnings. My mom was firmly opposed; her brother had suffered a serious motorcycle accident that hospitalized him most of a year. We were deadlocked. In the end I got the motorcycle, thanks to Dad taking my side. He supported me despite that fact that his only brother, his best friend, had died of a head injury from a scooter accident. I always wore a helmet, that was understood.

Have a great Father’s Day this Sunday. Don’t spend a lot of money on your dad—better to invest some time in him. Like he did for you. And if he’s no longer around, take a moment to remember. There’s meaning in that.




Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected]


Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m. There are 8 a.m. masses on other days and Saturday 5:30 p.m. vigils.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.



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