Friday, June 18, 2010

Celebrating Daddy and Apostrophe Hell

Morgan James Charles Brannigan: I salute you!
Thanks so much for being my dad and for being such an incredible one at that. Although we shared 39 years on the planet, it wasn't nearly enough. In some ways, we had only gotten started.
Photo 1: Morgan in his early "Bing Crosby" era.

There is an absolute void with you not here; but I'm not too sure you'd approve of how life has been evolving for mankind.
I remember the grace you said for our last Thanksgiving dinner with the family. You stated you were grateful to have lived long enough to have witnessed the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. It was a positive sign to you that the world just might be getting their collective act together. A friend of mine gave me a chunk of the Berlin Wall and I have it on my desk at school in your honor.

You made the best jello. You made the best hot sausage sandwiches in the history of hot sausage sandwiches. You made delicious meals and treats when our larders were lean. You were artistic, creative, and loving. When it rained, you drove us to school. When I was bored or lonely, you manufactured amusements and gave me your time. When I was given a homework punishment of writing "I will not talk in class" 30 times, you sat me down and showed me how to hold three pens at one time.
Photo 2: Michael Charles Grohman Brannigan, my grandfather, with my Uncle Bob. Please note he set the familial tone for wearing fedoras.

Happy Fathers' Day, Dad. You are half the reason I am a good parent and I love you for it.

Photo 3: James Joseph "Cinders" O'Brien and his brood. Taken just before they were considering moving back to Aberavon, Wales, where he worked after leaving Tipperary, Ireland as a teen.


Daddy Day didn't start until around 1910. At first it was fittingly celebrated on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. Then it was moved to June in recognition of the father of the woman who pushed it to be a nationally observed day. Why June? Well, it was originally intended to honor his birthday; but, then the government stepped in. Our former president and source of Watergate amusement, Richard M. Nixon, officially deemed it a national day of observance on the third Sunday of June. It is good to know he was able to have that in place without it requiring a grand jury hearing.

While I was checking on a few details, a small one jumped out at me: the official flowers for Fathers' Day are roses!  Wearing a red one denotes your dad is living while a white one is worn if your father is deceased. This is such a wonderful tradition that I have every intention of carrying it out this Sunday. Unfortunately, I'll be sporting white.

For those dads out there who are interested in milking the situation: check out the 25 different days fatherhood is celebrated around the world. You have to name it to claim it, my friend!  This morning country western singer, Keith Urban, was being interviewed about Fathers' Day. His wife, Nicole Kidman, has a June 20th birthday, so that is what they will focus on this Sunday rather than Fathers' Day. (My daughter's birthday falls on Mothers' Day periodically, so I feel his pain.)  Old Keith is using the September date Australians have set aside for Daddy Day. What a guy and a good sport. Then again, he is wealthy enough to fly from country to country yanking in gifts from all 25 different Fathers' Days world wide. Does that give you an idea, my brothers? Celebrated 25 different days around the world.

Father's Day or Fathers' Day? Dear lord, you see it both ways....every place you go....even Hallmark Stores.
Please know I admit to being lacking in spots with grammar and mechanics even though I pulled 12 years of hard duty with the good Religious Sisters (no apostrophe here) of Mercy. Believe me, Sister Regina, RSM, did her level best along with the other 11 ladies; however, I still have my issues with writing. I try. Some times I try harder than others. Periodically, the more I focus on some selected "rules" the cloudier the application becomes. That is why I am always in close range of reference book.

The rule for possessive plural nouns ending with an "s" is that you only need to place an apostrophe following the existing s.

If you were celebrating a day for only one father, it would be Father's Day since it is a singular noun.
Add another father to the fray, or perhaps several ba-jillion others, and it becomes Fathers who are being celebrated. That upgrades it to Fathers' Day with the apostrophe following the "s" rather than being placed before it.  If you place it before the ending "s" then you have a day where you are partying in the name of only one dad ---- but it isn't Fathers' Day, the third Sunday of June, it is a day you are constructing all by your little self.

While we are chatting it up about apostrophes, let me explain to you that some children are being taught to refer to it as a "comma to the top" while learning grammar rules. If you are doing that, PLEASE STOP IT. You are probably one of those folks who uses words like "boom boom" and "thingie" to discuss body parts. PLEASE STOP THAT AS WELL.

One of my favorite books is EATS, SHOOTS, AND LEAVES by Lynn Truss. It is available in the original "adult" version which extols the virtues of the "Apostrophe Protection Society" in London. The book details stories of the steps these dedicated Brits take when they spot a publicly displayed sign with an incorrectly placed punctuation mark. They do what you would expect repressed Brits to do: they kindly send a note explaining the proper application and expect you to correct it.  Don't you LOVE IT? Does that mean Scoop is repressed? Let's leave that for another blog, shall we?

The author's book dedication speaks to her dry humor:
"to the memory of the striking Bolshevik printers of St. Petersburg who, in 1905, demanded to be paid the same rate for punctuation marks as for letters, and thereby directly precipitated the first Russian Revolution."
That Ms. Truss is a witty one.  Go to the "ly-berry" and check out her book. Literally.

So, darlings, go forward in the knowledge that summer is here and the beastly hot stuff is a-coming in short-order. Get that hat and SPF sun screen stuff ready as July 4th is around the corner. Happy trails and, should you have any further questions concerning grammar, please feel free to use the Grammar Girl gadget on my blog page. She is ready for action. She is capital, period.  As the kids say, LOL.
Meanwhile, let me know what time to be there for the cook-out. I like my burgers well done with extra sharp cheddar.

Love you madly,

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