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Dad is my most cherished moniker
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U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, discusses his first year in Congress


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I have an assortment of nicknames and titles, but the one I love best is Daddy.

The person who can honestly call me that will turn 24 this year. That just doesn’t seem possible.

In the past few weeks, a young colleague of mine became a father. When he tells me about the wonders and challenges of fatherhood, my mind flashes back to the same time in my life.

One of my favorite memories is resting on the sofa with a little baby laying on my chest. I can remember changing diapers and trying to soothe an upset stomach. But the closeness of those early days is what I remember and treasure most.

When my young associate was going through parenting classes, I found out things haven’t changed much. A nice lady named Jennifer Pulliam taught our class and I saw her recently. I told her how I still remember the little tips she offered about how to soothe crying babies. We both smiled at the memory.

Even when your kids reach the age of adulthood, the role of Dad doesn’t seem to stop. In the past year, my baby girl entered the world of work. Interestingly, she works in a field similar to mine. She calls me periodically for advice. That is something I enjoy.

What’s really nice is she is pretty good at what she does. I have had folks who have interacted with her tell me she is polite and professional. That makes old Dad feel about 10 feet tall.

About 11 years ago, the number of offspring in my life increased by three. At the time, they were all in their late teens or early 20s. I didn’t think they would need much of a father by that time.

What’s really interesting is in the past five or six years, these adults in their mid-20s now give me cards on Father’s Day. When we married, they called me Harris. Now, they are likely to call me Pop or Papa. It’s funny how that happened. We’ve been there when our kids celebrated great things and when they needed someone to help dry a tear. I love the memories of both.

The most active father figure in my daily life is my wife’s father. His children are in the middle stages of adulthood, but he still has that fatherly compassion for his family.

When we travel, he likes to know what we’ve seen or done. When we are leaving, the Boy Scout in him makes him ask if we have all the supplies we need to return safely.

Almost every female member of the animal kingdom has inbred maternal instincts that make them care for their young. In some species, the father never comes around again.

I’m glad God didn’t make me that way, although I know there are some human Dads who left the scene and never returned.

My kids have showered me with books on the past few Father’s Days. I’ve sent out word I’m a little overwhelmed with books right now and hope they might pick something else.

But it is not their presents I want. It is their presence. I just want to see those faces and hear that favorite name just one more time.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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