For My Dad

Father’s Day was only officially made a national holiday in the U.S. in 1972, when President Richard Nixon declared it to be the third Sunday of June. But the holiday actually traces its origins to early 20th-century Washington State.

Inspired by a Mother’s Day sermon she heard at church in 1909, Spokane resident Sonora Smart-Dodd—one of six children being raised by a single dad—also wanted to honor her father. She encouraged local churches to institute the first Father’s Day observance the following year, and the idea caught on. (Learn more about the beginnings of Father’s Day.)

When I was a kid and as a young adult in Zambia, we didn’t celebrate Father’s Day, Mother’s Day neither. Was it because the celebration had yet to reach our wild and distant shores in those days of yore? Or was it ignored as a soppy idea created by Americans? Whatever the reason, I never officially wished my dad a happy father’s day. I never shopped for greetings cards that if he hadn’t died in 1976, would’ve become increasingly soppy with each passing year with all those miles between us. Especially after I completed my memoir last year.

So now, I’ve poured myself a beer, not a Castle or a Lion lager like he used to drink at the sundowners at Nkana Mine Club–it’s a Newcastle–and I’m raising my glass to my dearest old dad, whose term of endearment for me, Pearl of Great Price, caused many an embarrassing moment in my life. Especially at those aforementioned sundowners.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Cheers!