It was a beautiful, warm, gloriously sunny late spring day.
What is fatherhood?
Fatherhood is standing in public holding a miniature Dora the Explorer backpack and acting like it’s no big deal, because it isn’t. As a father, you hold your kids’ stuff, whether it’s Dora or princesses or Iron Man. And you play with them, too.
The first time Mom introduced us to him, he likes to joke, “she claimed you were circus dwarves.”
Not too long after that, Tom Berger became stepfather to me and my brother, Don.
I don’t know if he was ready to be a father. I certainly wasn’t ready to be a stepson.
This past Thursday, my wife and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary, which is, technically, impossible, since I’m pretty sure I’m only about 43 years old.
Last Saturday, I was at a baseball game at 10 a.m., and at a baseball game at 10 p.m. It was a great day.
In the morning, I sat in a folding chair under the hot sun watching my son’s T-ball team, named for a kind of shark, enjoy America’s pastime.
In the evening, my almost-done-with-kindergarten kid sat next to me at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
I was walking down Club Boulevard in front of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, pushing John Michael in the jogging stroller.
As she leaves for work every morning, my wife recites a mnemonic device that helps remind her that she is leaving for work.
Carolyn Hemingway. Antonio Dixon. Those who perished at Dachau during the Holocaust. Those that gave their lives for their country during war. Within less than two weeks, I covered four assignments that each had the same purpose – to remember those who were killed. One was a funeral. One was a national holiday. Two were vigils. Each of the four events were held on sunny days. Each of the four events remembered those who died not in peace, but by violence. Each of the four was emotional for those who were connected to those who died.
I couldn’t blame it on a bad pass, wet turf, sloppy handling or referee incompetence.
No, back in the 1970s, my sport was spelling.
When I failed, I only had myself to blame.
Let me reiterate and make this perfectly clear: I have no intention, currently, at this moment, as of early this morning, right now, of running for president in 2016.
However, as I state in my currently available new book, “Running for President in 2016,” circumstances can change.
Back when I was a reporter in Southwestern Virginia, I covered the June 6, 2001, opening of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. I left my home in Blacksburg at dawn, driving through several towns on the way to a rather small town, especially for a national memorial. But it’s there because Bedford lost the most soldiers, per capita, of anywhere else in the country on D-Day.
The dedication was a long day and an exciting one. Thousands of people were there, including the president. It was an important story because it was part of a thousand stories of those who will never forget June 6, 1944, the day of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II.
I haven’t started spritzing everything with Windex.
But I’m thinking about it.
It’s been a wild year since I took the unprecedented (in my life) step of getting baptized, joining the Greek Orthodox Church so that I could marry into a (very) Greek family.
A little more than a year ago, I packed up all my cares and woes, along with my curated collection of old take-out menus from restaurants that no longer existed, emptied my desk, refused to sharpen any more pencils, left my office and retired from my job.
Do you remember that boy or girl you playfully kicked under your desks in third grade? Dawn Grasty and Randy Weisbaum do. Picture it: Simi Valley, California, 1969 to 1971. Grasty and Weisbaum were best friends in third and fourth grades.
Michael Butts met his future wife in 2003 in the bookstore at Durham Technical Community College.
She needed a cassette recorder for a class in anatomy and physiology. She couldn’t find one.
The burly man – a formal football player at N.C. Central University who worked at the store even though it paid less than unemployment – asked if she needed help.
“I do not,” she said. “Thank you.”