The toughest man I ever knew was my father. He enlisted in the Marines when he was 17 years old, because it was World War II, and the Marines were the ones doing the fighting.
All the years I was growing up, he slept with a loaded handgun on the nightstand next to his bed. I pitied anyone who might decide to break into our house.
But I also remember a time, when I was about 12 years old, my parents had some friends over. After dinner, they went into the living room to chat.
A few minutes later, my father walked out, went into the kitchen and started washing dishes.
Shortly afterwards, one of his friends went looking for him. When he saw what my father was doing, he laughed and said, “I can’t believe that you’re washing dishes! That’s women’s work.”
My father looked at his friend, and after a moment of silence said, “When I wash dishes, it’s man’s work.”
Education happens in many ways and many places, and most of it is not in a classroom. I never had to join the Marines, because my father knew how to take boys and turn them into men.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Dan Shiner lives in Mill Valley.