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  • Danielle Nadler

Don't mess with her


I just came in from a three-hour bike ride. Enjoyed a beer with friends afterward. Noticed the tan lines have already formed halfway up my thighs and arms as I hung my bike in the garage. And it all has me thinking of Dad.

Father’s Day is meant to be spent outdoors. Growing up, the Watertown municipal golf course was our venue of choice to celebrate the day. It was the course I hung around most summer days from when I was 10 to 22 years old. We’d waste away lazy afternoons playing our favorite Par 3s over and over again, until the Marshall shooed us along. But on Father’s Day, at the only public golf course in town, there’s no room for horse play. On that day, golf was serious business. Dad and I would diligently call in the day before to secure a good tee time on our favorite 18 holes.

Now, it must be said, the manager at the time was easily annoyed by the youngest golfers who spent so much of their summer days—not to mention all of their allowance—at the course, hacking our way down the fairways and eating our through the snack bar. You know, easily annoyed is too kind a description for his demeanor. He could be down right mean.

Well, one Father’s Day, I was in line to check in for our 11 a.m. tee time. Dad later told me he’d hung back because he’d heard about how the manager treated anyone who didn’t qualify for the Men’s League, so he wanted to see how he’d respond to me. A 13-year-old version of me waited patiently behind a dozen or so men and finally made it to the register. The manager saw me, saw a man in his 40s standing behind me—Dad—and said, I think this man was here first.

“No, it’s her turn,” Dad said.

“I don’t think so. Let me check you in, sir,” he insisted.

Well, he’d done it. He’d brushed aside one of his most frequent customers. And Dad had witnessed it.

“No, sir, she was here first—I’m her father,” Dad said. “And she’s as much of a paying customer as any of these guys.” He went on a bit longer about just how hard I worked mowing neighbors’ lawns and babysitting to pay for a summer course pass each year, and how, if he wanted to stay in business, he'd be wise to nurture the next generation of golfers.

From that day forward, the manager treated me pretty darn good. He later hired me to work on the course’s maintenance crew, which meant free golf year round. That meant more time on the course, which helped me land a spot on the high school golf team and later on my college team.

But for Dad, his message wasn’t about golf. It was about noticing the lesser among us. The ones who can so easily get lost in a crowd of towering important people. His message was: Hey, she’s important. Treat her that way.

That’s how Dad treated everyone who crossed his path. He noticed the people no one else did, and he made sure they knew it with a little joke or an encouraging comment. It didn’t matter if you were a 90-year-old neighbor or a 10-year-old girl. He’d say to me, “God’s favor is all stinkin’ over you. You’re going to do amazing things.”

So today, let’s hear it for men who are the cheerleaders for those often on life’s sidelines. They notice us. They stand with us, and sometimes behind us. They fight for us and, what’s even more, fight with us. That’s love.


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