by | Jun 17, 2018 | The Writer's Life, On writing | 5 comments

S. Lee Manning: As I write this, I am glancing over at the picture of a young handsome man in an Ohio State baseball uniform. His arms raised, he is winding up to throw the pitch. He’s fresh out of the service, studying journalism and hoping to become a writer. He never did. Instead he went into advertising. 
Years later, he taught me how to throw a baseball and how to hit, pushed me to write, wept when I left Cincinnati for New York, and wept when I returned for a visit. 
This is the fourth Father’s Day without him, and I can feel the tears rising in my eyes just thinking about him.
My Dad, who almost made it to the Cincinnati Reds
June is the month of love and marriages. It seemed like the perfect month to write about love and protagonists in thrillers, which is why it’s the topic of the month on RWW – should we choose to write the topic of the month. I was contemplating writing on spies and romance – and then I realized that my post would be out on Father’s Day. 
Somehow Father’s Day doesn’t seem to have the cultural emotional outpouring that Mother’s Day does. Fathers wind up receiving the ceremonial golf balls or ties, and then stand at the grill to cook hot dogs and hamburgers in their own honor. But little is said about their importance in our lives. So in honor of the two men closest to my heart, my late and beloved Dad, Lou Katz, Louie Baby, and my wonderful husband, Jim, the father of my two children, it’s time to correct this wrong. 
And after all, if the topic is love, maybe the place to start is with fathers – if you were lucky enough to have a good one. 

So here’s to my Dad who bought me my first guitar, who loved to hear me sing, who hated a column I wrote in my early twenties but defended me against anyone who dared to criticize me. Here’s to my Dad who took me for ice cream and to hit golf balls, who pitched softballs, making me the best softball player in the fifth grade, and who took me swimming and to Cincinnati’s Coney Island. Here’s to my Dad who accepted my non-Jewish boyfriend (who would become my husband) the first time I brought him home, despite the disapproval of my mother and other more orthodox family members. Here’s to my Dad who always thought I was a better person than I am, who believed in me when I sometimes didn’t believe in myself.

Jim with our daughter Jenny.

Jim with our son Dean

And here’s to Jim who slept in a blue chair next to my hospital bed for two weeks when I had to be hospitalized after breaking my water at 24 weeks pregnant with our oldest child. Here’s to Jim who left his job early every day for three months to visit our newborn baby in the ICU – which wound up hampering that job, who, when I was pregnant with our son and on bed rest for seven months, took care of our five-year-old daughter after getting home from a long day at work. Here’s to Jim who spent years commuting long distances to difficult jobs – for his family.  Here’s to Jim for putting up with – and eventually forgiving – members of my family who took years to accept that I’d married a non-Jew. Here’s to Jim for wanting the best for both of his children, for accepting and supporting their choices in life.
I wouldn’t be the person I am without my father – or without Jim. 
Happy Father’s Day. 
Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Robin Burcell

    What a great tribute! I have to agree that fathers often take the backseat on their own day. But I think they are happy just to be around their family. Like you, I'm lucky to have married a very good man, who happens to be a wonderful father to our three girls.

  2. Karna Bodman

    Loved your tribute to your Dad! And yes, this IS the day when we all think about the contributions our fathers made to our lives….mine was my "guiding light" in so many ways. I remember saying once that I thought he was a better leader than many of the men you see immortalized around town. He replied, "I would rather have people ask why my statue was not in the town square… than why it was." Indeed.

  3. Gayle Lynds

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad and Jim, S. Lee. I loved the photos of both, and the sense of decency and intelligence and kindness they exhibited. What a tribute. Brought tears to my eyes at the end. Thank you!

  4. Lisa Black

    This is exactly how I feel about my father! We were peas in a pod–especially when it came to mystery fiction!
    And working for a police department has really shown me how having good parents positively affects the rest of one's existence…and vice-versa.

  5. Chris Goff

    Such a nice tribute to two men you adore/adored, and who clearly have left a lasting impression. I think a lot of daughters have a special attachment to their dads, but that is one of the nicest tributes to a husband I've read. Thank you! Makes me want to go out and buy Wes flowers.