Dad’s greatest gift — always being there for children

There’s not a day I can remember as a kid when my dad didn’t make breakfast.

Dad was a morning guy. He was hard-wired to wake up with the chickens from growing up on a farm. Dad might have left the farm, but the farm never left him. I think he figured if he couldn’t be up early and feed livestock, at least he could be up early and feed his family.

He’d bring in the morning paper (along with a firsthand report on the weather) and start the coffee. Then as my brother and I appeared, he’d offer to pop some bread into the toaster or pour cereal, maybe peel an orange or halve a grapefruit.

I thought every kid grew up like this.

On cold winter days, he’d say we needed something to stick to our ribs and have a pot of oatmeal or cream of wheat simmering on the stove. I wasn’t a girl who relished the picture of oats and grains sticking to my ribs, so I was a hard sell most days.

But on the mornings he sweetened the deal with raisins and brown sugar, I was game.

When we were out of milk, he’d constitute powdered milk, pour it in a pitcher and say it was just as good as the real thing. It wasn’t as good as the real thing; it was awful. And then he’d drink some of the powdered milk to demonstrate how wonderful it was.

He drank alone.

When Mom came out, he’d pour two cups of coffee, and then they’d both sit down at the table and divide the newspaper. For 10 minutes or so we’d all be around the same table.

I thought every kid grew up like this.

My dad’s greatest gift to his kids was being there. Faithfully. Reliably. Every day. He wasn’t a big talker or flowery philosopher, but we knew what was expected. We also knew that whatever happened, we could count on him. He’d be there for us, just like he’d be in the kitchen every morning.

After Mom died and Dad got cancer I would often go stay with him for a week or so at a time. I was now the first one awake, dressed and in the kitchen.

“What’ll it be this morning, Dad?”

“Oh, I’m not too hungry. How about some toast? Put some of that strawberry jam on it, would you?”

After toast and coffee, he’d often say, “You know what sounds good? Maybe some scrambled eggs. See if we’ve got some sausage in there. Do we have any fruit?”

A little while later, “Would you mind making a little oatmeal?”

It was a pleasure and a privilege to be there in the mornings the same way Dad had been for us, day after day, year after year.

I don’t eat much in the mornings anymore, but breakfast will always be my favorite meal of the day.

Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to