It was a day of bicycles and roller skates. A day for playing hop-scotch and marbles. It was a day when no respectable 10-year-old female would be without her autograph book with pastel pages. After all, didn't every girl need to know she was accepted? Didn't she, in fact, search every entry to see if, at least occasionally, she might garner a word of praise?
I think Dad knew the scoop. Maybe that's why he took so long when I asked him for an autograph on that late spring day.
"Well, let's see now," he said. "Oh, here's a funny one." Dad cleared his throat and read:
"When one day a boy kisses you at the gate--
remember love is blind, but the neighbors ain't."
"Okay. Give me a minute. I need inspiration," Dad said.
Frankly, I was surprised by Dad's delay; his desire for time and thought. He was usually a man of few words. Maybe he wanted to improve upon the scribblings of "Hi, does your face hurt? Well, it's killing me," or just "Have a good summer."
I waited in anticipation, but with little hope. Finally, he handed the autograph book to me and walked away. Today, more than a half-century later, the book is gone but the words on the light-gold page remain etched on my heart. Dad wrote:
"When all the others you have read
When nothing nicer can be said
When others have praised you to the top
Remember--the best praise comes from your Pop!
Happy Father's Day to all the guys who know how to bless their daughter's heart!