Not sure how to tell my oldest daughter this but at my station in life – senior citizen in need of a routine massage, an occasional cold beverage and a couple naps a day, minimum – I am not out looking for a side hustle or extracurricular activities. I get my daily steps in and that’s quite enough exercise, thank you very much. Most days, I am looking for the nearest comfy couch and the cool underside of a pillow. I have stacks of books to read.

In the immediate future, I am wanting to kick back and watch a whole mess of baseball – on the tube or in person. I especially enjoy Double-A ball where the players are giving their absolute all to earn that coveted call to the Show and ballparks where the fans know the game. This is where the season is less a pastime and more a way of life, where you come for good ball – not to be seen. Sure, I’ll score an occasional game, count pitches and all that, and obsess a bit over whether I do or do not miss an inning or an at bat. Frankly, I’m just as interested in the quality and girth of a slow-grilled hot dog from the concession stand and if the condiments include sauerkraut, diced onions and mustard. Jalapeno slices optional.

Got any cold beer in this joint? Salted-in-the-shell peanuts? That works for me. Batter up.

But homework? Unless it is a master class on relaxation techniques, I am done with schooling. I certainly have no design on taking on a regular writing assignment. Already have that gig and, with all other responsibilities of putting a paper to bed, it’s tough enough to find time to string together some sentences and whole paragraphs on this old and cantankerous laptop.

Besides, writing ain’t easy. Never has been. At least not for me. I struggle with it every time out.

But now, one year from having all of our kids out of college, Shelby sends me an invitation to tell stories. Yep. That is exactly what she just sent me – as a present, no less – on Father’s Day.

Lucky me. (Cue sarcasm music.)

Whatever happened to the greeting card stuffed with cold, hard cash? Whatever happened to this notion I have been sharing with them for years about a down payment on a new Mustang convertible? They think I kid.

So, as happens every Father’s Day or my birthday, I get phone calls from my kids and I love them all, the calls and the kids. Love the conversations, catching up, hearing their voices. I am a journalist so I am professionally nosey and pretty good at finding out what’s new in their busy lives, how the job is going, what they are listening to or reading. Are they getting out? Dating? Working out? Typically, no one misses. Dylan booted the ball on Sunday, sent a note by way of apology and explanation on Monday. Could have called, I thought, even a day late. No biggie. But, still, I am left to contemplate some appropriate adjustment to his inheritance.

But Shelby, the oldest and an overachiever, sent me this note attached to a digital signup: “Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I’ve loved hearing your stories growing up and hopefully you can write and share your stories with me and the family. Love you very much.”


What ever did I do to deserve this? Was it the time I dropped her on her head as an infant? Hey, it was an accident. Besides, she bounced.

But now she wants me to write a response to a question she has, once a week, and that sounds exactly like an assignment. Like homework.

Can’t we do a photo essay?

And, yeah, she’s going to save it. Probably share it, too.

The first question? “What is one of your fondest childhood memories?”

Well, it certainly wasn’t schoolwork, Shelby.

— J. Damon Cain is executive editor of The Register--Herald.

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