The Greatest Gifts From Dad

Readers share details about the best gifts their fathers ever gave them. 

Photo by Ben Wiseman

Over two decades ago, my dad began compiling little bits of wisdom that he had picked up over the years (dubbed "Dad's Tips for Life") and mailed the collection to my siblings and me right after we left for college across the country. Some of the advice is widely known ("Bend at the knees and save your back"), some is practical ("Read the newspaper daily"), and some is unique to my dad ("Never eat powdered donuts in dress clothes"). He continues to add to the list today.
Alison Gorman
Portland, Maine

He read aloud to me all the way through high school. While the types of books evolved as I got older, he would still create voices for each character. This little ritual solidified my love of reading as well as our amazing bond.
T.B. Campbell
San Diego, California, via Facebook

When my siblings and I were kids, my dad worked the late shift and was gone from 3:30 P.M. to 1 A.M. Despite needing to sleep during the day, he always prepared a meal and left it waiting in the oven. (No one else in the family cooked!) I live on my own now while in graduate school, and I really miss coming home to a hot meal from my dad.
Janelle S. Perez
San Diego, California

My laugh. It's loud and hardy, just like his. I used to be embarrassed by the volume of my dad's laughter when we were out in public, like when we'd watch comedies at a movie theater. But nowadays I'm proud to share this trait with him. He died almost 13 years ago, and I think about him every time I laugh.
Kim Biehl
Tampa, Florida

Before my sweet mother was stricken with Alzheimer's disease, she spoiled my dad. He rarely cooked or did laundry. But once she got sick, my dad took the best care of her, even after she had to be moved to a special facility. He spent every day with her, feeding her lunch, holding her hand, and brushing her hair. He stayed by her side until the day she died. His example of what it means to love someone will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Lisa Weber
Independence, Kansas

His first real hug! Traditionally, Asian men aren't raised to show their emotional side. So my dad never really hugged me or said, "I love you." When I was in high school, I ran to my room crying uncontrollably after something bad happened. To my surprise, my dad hugged me and let me sob in his arms. This simple gesture made me feel truly loved.
Quyen Ly
Brooklyn, New York

He performed my wedding ceremony. Due to a long battle with cancer, my dad, a Baptist minister, was incredibly ill in the days leading up to the ceremony. However, he managed to walk me down the aisle and led my now husband and me through our vows. He did an amazing job, and at one point he even leaned down to kiss my forehead. It felt like a miracle.
Rebekah Deeds King
Damascus, Maryland

His high school diploma. At the age of 41, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In true angsty teen fashion, I began to lose my way and dropped out of school. My dad gave me his diploma shortly before he died. He wanted to remind me that education is important and that he cared about my success. A year after he passed away, I earned my own diploma.
Malissa Manney
Salem, New York

The gift of common sense. When all else fails, I know I have a good head on my shoulders because of him.

His dashing good looks, unconditional love, and the promise that I can always come home.

My husband of 31 years. My dad actually set us up on a blind date when my husband was working as his employee. We got married one year after our first meeting!
Teresa Fallin
Blountsville, Alabama

As a teen, I struggled with my weight and confidence. My dad encouraged me to focus on my creativity and life goals, helping me see beyond my waist-line. Thanks to my biggest supporter, I am more at peace with myself in my 30s than I ever have been.
Erica Smithee Loewe
Carpentersville, Illinois

He chose me as his date to a Stanley Cup playoff game. Back in the 1970s, my dad asked me, his 12-year-old daughter, to attend the big game with him. What a surprise! His die-hard hockey buddies were not very happy about that decision, but it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating days of my life.
Ellen Klesta
Darien, Illinois