We’ve got Father’s Day coming up in a few weeks, so it’s time to think about my dad again. Instead of sharing the same old story, let’s talk about how he helped with my anxiety.
See, my dad was the best in the world and tried to participate in all facets of my life – he sat through my dance classes, he responded to all my cheers at the basketball games, he dried my tears when I had (another) meltdown about (another) boy who broke my heart. So it was no surprise that he tried to assist with my anxiety attacks of my teens and twenties, but it was one more thing he just couldn’t comprehend.
He could put himself in my shoes for all those silly girl activities, but when it came to the physical symptoms of a mental health problem, he didn’t get it. He read about it; he talked to doctors about it. But dad was a relatively happy guy even when life was stressful so he didn’t know what to do.
As he did with everything, he once relayed a story when trying to talk me off a mental ledge. He told me about a coworker who had debilitating panic attacks. Surprise, surprise – instead of politely pretending to ignore the situation, dad asked the guy a million questions including how could he help. This gentleman told dad to remind him (and me) that there was always something to look forward to. Or if there wasn’t, that’s what needed to happen – create something to look forward to.
So this is my round-about way to 1. celebrate awesome fathers everywhere, 2. remind you that mental health is just as important, delicate, and appropriate to discuss as physical health, and 3. share three treats that dads are sure to enjoy this Father’s Day or anytime. Bonus – nothing takes too long, so you’ll have plenty of time for him to tell you ’bout that one time that….
We had a routine growing up where on Sundays we would go to church, do the Sunday school/”hold up the walls” (as my mom called the stand-around-and-chat time) thing, then go to a local bar for hamburgers, pinball, and Bloody Marys, as you do. 😉 I’ll let you decide who enjoyed what there. After all that, we’d come home late in the afternoon to do homework or lounge around. By the time dinner came around, no one was hungry enough for a meal, but needed something to get by until breakfast. Typically, dad would make a gigantic bag of popcorn with like a whole stick of melted butter on top. He’d pour it all into a paper grocery bag and I’d get to shake, shake, shake! My mom and I each got a small bowl or two but dad ate straight out of the bag. Man, my stomach hurts just thinking about it, but he was always happy. Give it a try yourself.
My dad had a great poker face when it came to stomaching some of my early kitchen experiments, but he snarfed this icebox chocolate wafer cake with abandon when I made it for one of his last Milwaukee birthdays. It’s pretty much like a gigantic Oreo already dipped in milk. You need to make the whipped cream, but the cookies are premade. Pro-tip – make it exactly 24 hours before eating. I think it has the best texture of the chocolate wafer cookies at that point – not to crunchy, not too soft.
By the end of his life, I think dad was made up of roughly 35% Diet Dr. Pepper. I never saw him drink water. He barely drank coffee and MGD was just for after 6 on a workday. When it came to food – good, homemade baked beans were some of his favorites. All that said, I can imagine he (and the dads in your life) would love these baked beans from Sugar & Soul. Don’t be surprised if you see something like this on a future menu around these parts. I think I would love them, too!