When I taught writing, I asked my students to describe their parents by using the five senses.

Gosh, does this writing exercise elicit vibrant responses! Here are some words my community college students, who ranged in age from eighteen to sixty, used to describe their fathers:

My dad smelled like machine oil and Old Spice.

If you hug Daddy, he feels like a big old pillow.

My dad played jazz records night and day. This drove Mom nuts!

The heirloom roses my father grew in our front yard were gorgeous, especially the yellow ones.

Dad can’t resist Good and Plenty, Snickers, and Oreos.

It’s our turn!

Smell

What did your dad smell like? My dad loved Noxema, so that’s the smell I associate with him.

Touch

How did your dad feel when you touched him? Mine held me up in the rough surf of Ocean City, Maryland, when I was a little girl. I remember the feel of his big, strong, sure hand in mine.

Sound

What sounds do you associate with your dad? The crack of the bat, the cheers of the crowd, the ads for Ballantine Beer. Summer meant the Baltimore Orioles on my dad’s transistor radio. He carried it with him everywhere.

Taste

What foods shout, “That’s my dad!” Mine loved fried chicken and my mom’s ginger cookies. Actually, he loved anything my mom cooked.

Sight

When you close your eyes, how do you see your dad? For years, my dad dispensed dog treats to the family dogs by sitting in a rocker in the kitchen. Dad is gone, but I’ve got the rocker to remember that happy sight.

To honor your dad this week, celebrate him with the senses.

Listen to what he loved to listen to, be that baseball, Beethoven or bird sounds. Enjoy his favorite foods. Look at what he loved to look at. Find those dad smells, and let the memories come drifting back. And imagine your dad’s touch. And if he’s still with you, give him the biggest hug ever.

How would you describe your dad, using one or more of your 5 senses? Did he smell a certain way? What did his voice sound like? Please join the conversation.

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