Tag Archives: essays on dad

My Tribute to my Dad

As promised, here is my essay, written for my dad, Don Stepps.  Love you Dad, Dad-daddy-o!

Death Missions

At my grade school Halloween costume party, my dad was the guy weaving through the crowd of Catholic school kids and nuns shouting, “Adrienne!” Not only was he dressed as Rocky in his gray zipper hoodie, boxing gloves and fake shiner under his left eye – he was Rocky Balboa.  Dad always played the part, from his silly or scary folktales to the pranks he pulled with costumes or props. 


I adopted Dad’s sense of adventure and often joined in on the fun: in Tomahawk, WI where we vacationed with aunts, uncles and cousins, Dad and I finished up a day of fishing with a little “surprise.” I knocked on my Uncle’s cottage door and when they opened, Dad threw a very wet, very alive fresh-caught fish onto their kitchen floor then slammed the door closed. Off we ran leaving a wake of shrieks and screams as that poor fish flip-flopped on their floor!



Flash forward 20 years and here I am, Little Miss Big Eyes (as Dad calls me), mom of two boys who adore their Grandpa. Even at age 61, Dad still plays pranks, in the form of “death missions” with my boys.  Sneaking into the kitchen to “steal” more candy for their movie night or sending my boys to smuggle the toaster and waffles out to the pop-up camper for a midnight snack, all without getting busted by Grandma, is the essence of a death mission.


Adventurous, risk-taker, spontaneous and creative are all great traits for a dad or grandpa of young kids. But Dad’s knack for fun has also been my inspiration as an adult. As I take risks in my writing, be creative in my teaching and find the adventure in Mommyhood.  I only hope that the stories I tell are as memorable as Dad’s.


Words: 299


BIO: Mary Jo Campbell, married mom of two, is an award-winning published freelance author who has been inspiring young writers to reach their potential through writing workshops, classes and speaking engagements. She teaches for FRoG (Friends of the Gifted & Talented) through their Super Saturday Programs, hosts on-going monthly young writers’ workshops and was the key note speaker for the Chick Chat event sponsored by HGNA (Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence).   Mary Jo is also an Executive Board Member and the Secretary for Capitol City Young Writers.


Filed under Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Non Fiction, Perseverance, Voice, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

Father’s Day Essays: Honorable Mentions, Pt 1

The first Honorable Mention Award goes to…

Judith Quinton, for her essay on the memory of her father.

“My father, who art in heaven”

I don’t intend to be sacrilegious: My daddy died many years ago, when I was barely 12.

Losing my daddy, who adored me, was the shaping event of my life.  It made me who I am today. It made me who I was in all the intervening years between his death and now.

Daddy was bigger than life, a Texas farm boy who became a stellar preacher, and the hole his departure left was deafening and cold, swallowing me like the Grand Canyon had, on the pack mule trip he and I took when I was 10.

I thought I would never recover the sky again after they closed the massive lid of his casket and lowered him into the hard clay ground on a muggy June day.

Gone was the man who nicknamed me “tree frog” when I was a baby because of the clucking noise I made with my tongue.  The one who built a home-made cage for my real pet frog and helped me catch flies for it. Who stood above me in the pulpit every Sunday, sharing funny stories and vivid life-lessons. Who taught me to love roses and traveling and reading and charity toward others. Who made me and everyone else laugh at his Tall-Texan jokes.

Life after Daddy became a search for his replacement. . .in every guy that happened along.

But I never found Daddy again. The gaping hole he left didn’t close until I was 40 years old. That’s when I fully grieved his death for the first time—at a healing retreat at advent season.

That’s when I finally said goodbye to Daddy. . .and realized his greatest gift to me: the early lesson that life is a series of losses and it’s what you do with them that really matters.


BIO:  Judith Quinton has been a free-lance writer, editor, and newspaper columnist for the past 30 years. Since 2007, she has published many of her writings on her blog: Zany Life + Crazy Faith at www.jlomowriter.blogspot.com.  This summer she will be launching a new professionally designed site by the same name at www.zanychick.com. She also looks forward to the publication of her spiritual memoir, 40 Days in Ordinary Time, in early fall.
I loved the poetic imagery Judith uses in her essay here:  ” tree-frog”; “the hole his departure left was deafening and cold; ” would never recover the sky again.” Her daddy’s bigger than Texas personality is apparent, as well as the hole he left after passing.  I’d be very intrigued to read an essay on Judith’s “awakening” experience at the healing retreat…
Come back tomorrow for the second essay that was awarded an honorable mention.


Filed under contests, Creative Essays, emotion, Non Fiction, writing inspiration