Real Simple staffers share fond memories in honor of the holiday—and in appreciation of their pops.

By Real Simple
Updated May 24, 2016
Father holding daughter's hand
Credit: IvanJekic/Getty Images
Father holding daughter's hand
Credit: IvanJekic/Getty Images

Father holding daughter's hand

“There is so much to love about my dad, but I think what I love most is his silly sense of humor. I still remember him answering the phone at our house by saying, “Domino’s Pizza!” The person on the other line was inevitably confused, sometimes hung up, and he laughed hysterically every single time.” — Sam Zabell


“When we first moved to the U.S., my father taught group painting classes at our home on the weekends as a side gig. The students were all teenagers. Though I was only around 4 or 5 years old, my father would always set up a spot for me to paint with the group so that I was included. We didn’t have very much space in the apartment, so he built me a bunk bed from scratch that had a ladder, a monkey bar, and a little workstation underneath so that I always had my own place to create.” — Dina Ravvin


“My dad always went out of his way to make our birthday parties special. One year, he hid the presents from my sister and me, prank-called us and told us they had been stolen, then sent us on a scavenger hunt with our party guests to find them!” — Grace Elkus


“When my mom was at work and my dad was on the night shift, he’d be in charge of doing my (super curly) hair in the morning. I wanted a Topsy Tail so badly, so my dad made one for me, using duct tape and a piece of plastic from a brown hanging basket. It worked perfectly.” — Heather Muir


“My dad has a very serious job as an oncologist but always lets his silly side show with his kids. Growing up, he loved to invent crazy games meant to spark our imaginations. One of my favorites: He would tell me we were ‘part dog,’ going back many generations. Before bed, he’d first read my favorite stories in English and then he’d ‘bark’ them to me. To this day, we still speak ‘bark’ to each other—our own secret language. Ruff ruffs ruff, Ruff! (Happy Father’s Day, Dad!)” — Laura Schocker


“My parents got divorced in the mid-1980s when I was a teenager. My father desperately wanted me to feel at home in his new place so he hung a LIFESIZE (I’m not exaggerating) poster of Bruce Springsteen—sitting on the hood of a car, his biceps bulging out of his muscle T-shirt—in his new apartment.” — Lori Leibovich


“In sixth grade, the cool experimental public school my parents had jumped through hoops to get their five kids into closed, and we were all shipped to a super-strict school down the road. When the first test was about to happen, I really had no idea how to study. I was in tears. My father made me a chart and showed me how to memorize the facts and test myself. Not only did he take the fear out of studying, but he also made it fun. I’ll never forget the sense of relief and comfort that gave me.” — Danielle Claro


“Although my dad worked crazy hard when we were little, when he was off, he was totally ours—taking us hiking, bike riding, horse-back riding—and was a captive audience, attending our pretend schools or churches, or letting us put a thousand little barrettes in his (then-thick) hair while he was watching the news.” — Sarah Copeland


“My sister and I thought our dad was humoring us by laughing when we tried to tickle him, but we were wrong. One day we hit an extra sensitive spot and chased him out of the house wearing only his briefs. He never let us tickle him again!” — Lori Seto


“When I was a child, my mom worked Saturdays, so it was mine and my sister’s special day with our dad. My sister and I had a made-up restaurant, using our play kitchen, and we'd beg our dad to come be a customer. He’d purposely order bizarre things to get a rise out of us, like frogs’ legs. We still laugh about it today!” — Alexa Speyer


“My dad could sew. Once, when I was home for a friend’s wedding, the beaded straps of my dress popped off as I was sitting down in the car. He grabbed two pieces of black elastic from his sewing kit and whipstiched some makeshift straps on in about 15 minutes. We weren't even late.” — Elizabeth Passarella


“In the summertime my dad would take me and my brother to an old drive-in theater. I never minded that the dialogue was sometimes staticky over the radio or that my rom-coms were outvoted with action movies. I was just happy we were together.” — Brandi Broxson


“When I was about 5 or 6 and growing up in northern Florida my dad and I went to Disney World without my mom. We arrived at the hotel fairly late and I was very sleepy, but we needed to get some dinner. Seeing how tired and grumpy I was, my dad made us a dinner out of snacks at the vending machine and let me eat in bed and fall right to sleep. It felt so decadent and naughty. And it was the best night of sleep I think I’ve ever had.” — Westry Green


“At the ripe old age of 21, I was going through my first major breakup. I was a mess—I drove 24 hours home to ‘heal.’ Healing to me was treating my mom like a therapist, breaking into random tears, and slumming around the house. Eventually my poor mom had had enough and sent me over to visit my dad. My dad is a quiet man—he speaks very broken English and grew up in a world much different than mine. I speak broken Spanish, so we’ve always had a bit of a language barrier. Through tears, I explained what happened. To my surprise, my dad burst into laughter and told me that the guy was a jerk. He offered me a beer—the first beer we’d ever had together—and assured me that the first heartbreak is always the hardest. He was right.” — Christina Nava


“When I was going through my college applications and I told my parents I wanted to major in fashion design, my mom said ‘No, you can’t do that with one hand,’ and my dad was the one who said ‘Yes she can!’ Thanks to that encouragement I went on to study fashion design in New York.” — Victoria Sanchez-Lincoln


“From analytical essays in high school to term papers in college, my dad has always been my go-to editor—even as I continue to pursue a career in journalism myself! He has a way with words and his insightful academic (and personal) advice is something I will always cherish.” — Sydney Hershman


“When I was little my dad and I both loved to swim, and when we would go on family vacations we would both immediately head to the pool. He had this trick that I loved where he would hold my feet close to the surface of the water so that I could ‘walk on water.’ I thought it was the most magical thing and would ask to do it repeatedly for hours on end. He was a good sport!” — Emily Kinni


“When I was little my Dad would sometimes sing the song ‘Sweet Baby James,’ by James Taylor, to me as a lullaby before falling asleep. And once or twice he even played guitar along with it. I loved it so much that I chose it for our father-daughter dance at my wedding 12 years ago, and now I sing it to my boys as a lullaby. It will always be our song.” — Naomi Lindberg