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Editor’s Note: Steve and Kathy Doosy’s Brand New »The Simple Happy CookbookNot only is it full of easy, delicious, stress-free recipes—it’s also a family memoir with heartwarming and sometimes hilarious stories. One of them is this…
When I was growing up, my parents had a standard that they tried to apply to all five of their children. They wanted to treat all of us equally – always. They didn’t want to praise anyone without complimenting All Our. It probably seemed like a perfectly adequate plan to them—but a child can never hear enough parental praise. The need for parental confirmation doesn’t end in childhood – we crave it for the rest of our lives.
Now that both my parents are gone, I miss it dearly – although I must admit that my father, Jim Doosy, had grown very close to me. efflorescence Praise … Once, when I was in my forties.
My mother died on Christmas morning in 1997. Our entire family was doomed for the longest time because his death was completely unexpected. I tried to give my father (and myself) as much rest as I could by calling at least once or twice a day. We had things over to talk, but it felt good to touch base, because we both knew that someday neither of us would be there to pick up the phone.
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Cathy invited my father to visit us in New Jersey for a week – nothing was on the agenda other than spending time together. We’d just drink coffee, talk about the news, and Kathy would send the two of us to errands I stopped doing because I needed another set of hands. Dad was my assistant in theory, but he actually took over and I was his backup man, just like he was when he was in his thirties and I was a teenager.
One day Cathy drove us to Home Depot and the cleaners, and then we had to swing by the grocery store to pick up some essentials. In front of the store, my dad pulled a shopping trolley from a long line of chrome carts—and stopped dead in its tracks.
I had seen the look on his face before as he patted his back, and I thought he pulled the car very hard. “Are you alright?” I asked
He said nothing. He turned his head in my direction and pointed his arm to the front of the shopping cart like an Irish setter.
“Oh, that…” I saw what he was pointing at and was a little embarrassed.
I hadn’t told him that there was an 8×10-inch full-color ad featuring “Fox & Friends” on the front of shopping carts across the country that month. Crew. He looked at me with the biggest grin and sang “Stephen, you’re the host…with a toast!”
Yes, in the photo I was waving a piece of cinnamon-raisin swirl toast to the camera.
I was a little uncomfortable; I may have a 6 to 9 a.m. job as a TV broadcaster, but when I’m out in the real world, like at the grocery store, I like to be a little anonymous. But Dad was about to make that impossible, as his father, Brag Jean, kicked in and he spent the next ten minutes doing double-takes on me and on the car, trying to notice random shoppers. his son Everyone in the shop was acting on the front grill of the car.
I hadn’t told him that there was an 8×10-inch full-color ad featuring the “Fox & Friends” crew on the front of shopping carts across the country that month. He looked at me with the biggest grin and sang “Stephen, you’re the host…with a toast!”
Think about it—if you saw an ad on a shopping cart, would you even look close enough to realize that there was a person pushing the cart in the ad? Not at all
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In the express checkout lane, I quickly put my luggage on the belt, the clerk announced the purchase amount, and I wrote a check and handed it over.
“Can I have your check cashing card?” I nodded and pulled out my car keys, which had the store card on the ring. But I had accidentally grabbed Kathy’s key. “I’ve got my wife’s keys,” I said, pointing to her. “Lemme give you our phone number…”
“Sorry, sir, you have to see the manager in the convenience booth,” he said, pointing to the other end of the store.
It’s a shame that this was happening in front of my father, who thought I was a big star Only forty-five seconds ago, the following words first came out of my lips: “Don’t you know who I am?” We closed our eyes and waited for him to say something to me, so I did. “I’ve been in this store every week for the past five years.”
“I’m new,” he said as someone queued his car behind us. Because it was New Jersey, I knew they were thinking, What is taking so long? Come on, chop chop!
Then, out of nowhere, my father spoke directly to the clerk: “Son, cut my boy loose a little, he works here.”
“Since when? I’ve never seen him.”
“If he doesn’t work here,” Dad began, “then why is he in your car?” He pulled the car back so that the cashier could see me—then the car. Me – then the car. Yes, it was me. He was speechless.
Then, like a Vegas hypnotist, Jim Ducey instructs her, “Now you’re going to get his check and we’re off.”
I wrote my phone number on the check and paid. As we left for the parking lot, Dad chimed in on “Fox and Friends” Advertisement on the front of three vehicles.
I could tell he was proud. , , But he didn’t say it out loud. well damn!
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Fifteen years later, Cathy and I were in the Topeka, Kansas, ballroom, where I was being recognized as the Distinguished Kanson of the Year. My father and sister were with us.
“It’s official,” I said, starting my acceptance speech, “that the state of Kansas has officially ended to give awards to people.”
I gave a good-natured retrospective about my life growing up in Kansas, talking about attending a one-room schoolhouse, and how I could best serve someone in my city. who could talk for a living one day—I was a salesman at a men’s clothing store, where I started chatting with total strangers throughout the day.
I told the crowd, “I learned that it’s better to tell the truth than to make a sale. If someone asks if they look fat in those pants, I’ll say, yes, you look fat.” I was seventeen. Much later, when I got married, did I find out that I had been answering that question wrong all my life.”
At the end of my remarks I shared with him that even though this guy left Kansas, Kansas had never left the boy. I recited the principles I learned in my home state. “Always be polite, don’t brag. There are no shortcuts, do the work. Enjoy every minute, Do the right thing, not an easy job. And always tell the truth—unless it’s about whether someone looks fat in their pants.”
The last one was a joke, but each one of those other principles was something I learned from my father. I looked at her, and she had the most sincere smile on her face. I had seen that smile before, but the tears flowing from his face were new.
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As he presented me a plaque—which hangs above my desk as I type it—a photographer asked if he could get some pictures of me with my dad. I said, “Absolutely!” I pulled Dad up to the stage and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the real con of the year.” And I meant.
After taking the last picture, Dad leaned closer and said, his voice a little hoarse, “Stephen, you did well… we’re all so proud of you.”
Some kids wait a lifetime for that moment, and when it came I was so suffocated that I could only say “thank you.”
The next day my family gathered for a big celebratory breakfast of chicken-fried steak and eggs, the perfect capers for a wonderful weekend. As we boarded our car to get to the airport, I hugged my dad and told him I loved him, then Cathy and I flew back to New York.
That was the last time I would ever see him alive.
Two days later my sister called me from the emergency room. Our father was in unbearable pain, and he didn’t know what caused it—he didn’t even get sick. Scans soon revealed that he had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, which eventually killed him.
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A year later my sister Lisa sent me some personal impressions of my father, including a scrapbook I had never seen before. The paper had turned yellow and the edges were twisted from opening and closing several times. It was full of newspaper clippings that he had saved for my entire thirty-year TV career.
Watching it was like a time capsule that brought back many memories of assignments from a long time ago. I turned to the last page—and it took my breath away. The tape on the page was one of “Fox and Friends”. Advertisement that he would proudly remove the New Jersey grocery store cart.
It was a lovely memory of his son – the host with the toast.
Steve and Kathy’s . adapted from “The Simple Happy Cookbook.” Click Here To order your copy. An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, used with permission of William Murrow. All rights reserved.
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