Rochelle Stidham E-T Publisher

You know how you wake up in the morning and before your feet hit the floor and before you down your first cup of coffee, your mind begins to wander. You think and you think and you think about the day ahead.

Well, I do that every morning and sometimes I get my best ideas at that time.

When I woke up Friday I started thinking about my father and what I should give him for Fatherís Day. Iíve been kicking around the idea of writing a column and what I wanted to write about ó then it hit me.

I could write about Fatherís Day.

It seems that "dear old dad" doesnít get the same treatment moms often get. Why is that, do you think? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that moms are the cheerleaders of the family and dads are the disciplinarians in most (not all) cases.

In my case, I grew up with two sisters (one of which is mentally handicapped) and three brothers (one who lost his life when he was 16). My father was a high school coach and my mother stayed at home to raise us kids.

As many of you know, coaching is a demanding job and the only time we saw dad was on a football field or a basketball court. When we were kids we didnít understand why dad was never home, but now that we are grown and have families of our own, we understand. Our jobs are demanding, as well.

Because my dad couldnít be with us all the time, he always made sure we enjoyed going to the games. My mom had a big part in this, as well. On game night the family would get together and make pom poms, then decorate the car with our dadís name written all over it with shoe polish (this was before car paint was invented).

You can bet everyone in town knew who we belonged to. We always dressed in the school colors so we would match dad and sing the fight song on the way to the games. Once we got to the stadium, we rolled down our windows and started yelling for the team and our dad. We had so much fun!

Today, I savor those memories. On days when Iím tired or feeling a little stressed, I sit back and remember those happy, carefree family moments of cheering on my dad. And I bet you have similar memories, as well.

Dad eventually retired from coaching. At 73, he now enjoys coaching from the sidelines, cheering on his grandchildren in everything from sports to dance recitals.

With the way things are these days - with the hustle and bustle of the world pulling us in different directions - itís easy to take life for granted. Today is a day that we should all stop and remember our dads and the impact they have had on our lives. Itís especially important to think of those dads who are away fighting in a war or who have lost children of their own. There are single dads and married dads. Dads who juggle full-time jobs and stay-at-home dads - all who still manage to find time to lead their children in the right direction. So hats off to all you fathers. May your day be filled with all the blessings and happiness you deserve.

By the way, I still didnít get dad anything for Fatherís Day because I was too busy writing this column.

So Happy Fatherís Day, dad.

Rochelle Stidham is publisher of the Empire-Tribune.