A Father’s Day Tribute to my Dad, Tom-on-the Hill

It was a sunny summer day in 1956. I was six years old and my Dad came to me and asked me how much money I had. I counted my nickels and pennies and told him 17 cents. He said that just might be enough, why don’t you go and see? Lou our neighbor across the street had a litter of Collie/Irish setter mixed breed puppies and my Dad had set it up with Lou to accept whatever I had as payment. Dad waited on the bank for me while I went across the road by myself to see the puppies. I came back with Spotty my dog for 10 joy-filled years.

I’m thinking about my Dad today because this is my second Father’s Day since he passed in May of last year. As I write today. I’m not sure if this post will have any great life lessons or have any purpose at all – other than to pay tribute to a great guy, my Dad, Tom-on-the Hill.

I do hope it will cause you to gratefully reflect today on the connection you have or had with your Dad. Like his son, my Dad was far from perfect. But I take comfort in knowing that he did the best job he knew how to do. A very strange dynamic exists between fathers and sons. As a teenager I recall being perplexed about why my friends thought my Dad was so cool. I can see our relationship much clearer now. As I listen to Harry Chapin sing Cat’s in the Cradle, much more than sadness comes up for me today. Some say we choose our parents. If that’s the case – it’s the wisest choice I’ve ever made.

I’d like you to meet my Dad, Tom-on-the Hill. Every man he met for the first time he called chief and everyone he knew, he called buddy. When he called you buddy, you felt like his buddy.

He was proud that he’d built his own home, with his own hands. The home he built is exactly one mile from Mingo Church at the highest point on the hill. In fact that’s how he identified himself on the phone. This is Tom, Tom Volkar, up on the hill.

Dad never did learn to say no. I couldn’t understand that. Growing up, time after time, I’d hear him agree to do another side plastering patch job he didn’t feel like doing. He may have said yes a lot when he wanted to say no, but over the years it was all the yeses of help to many, when they needed it most that made him the friend he was. That deep generosity of his workingman services was his strength.

He lived by this motto. If you can’t say anything good about someone – say nothing at all. He made you feel comfortable. He expressed genuine concern. And always together with Mom, in his home you felt at home.

It’s been said that the most honest measure of love is how we feel in another’s presence. By that measure my Dad was a champion.

Too often we underestimate the power of a pat on the back, a smile, a listening ear, the encouragement of a strong and loving grip, or even the smallest act of caring all of which add up to a life that in many small ways did indeed make the world a better place.

My Dad, Tom gave all those things and more. Now as I attend family gatherings and observe our family I feel truly blessed.

For the true measure of a man, of Tom-on-the-Hill, must surely be in the collective character, closeness and love of the family he created that will live on forever inspired by his gentle Spirit.


  1. I’m sure your father is very proud of his son. This is a very nice tribute to him, and I enjoyed reading it very much. Thank you for sharing.

    Clem Gigliotti Jr.s last blog post..A Website That Pays For Itself

  2. Tom, what a beautiful tribute to your dad. Thanks for sharing it.

    Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworkers last blog post..Living Life To Its Fullest Means Feeling It All

  3. Jeanne B. says:

    Tom, I was moved by your post. This is my second year without my Dad on Father’s Day. My Dad was a one-of-a-kind—the most gentle, wise, helpful, considerate but utterly mysterious man I’ve ever met. I still wonder sometimes if I truly “knew” him, as he was a man of few words (but those words were always profound). Perhaps one can be known by more than their words. If so, his actions spoke volumes to me of the love he had for his family.

    Thank you for your tribute to your Dad.

    Jeanne B.s last blog post..On The Verge: Enough, or Not?

  4. Thanks, Tom. Your tribute is a tribute to all parents and all kids. Being a parent I don’t know what my sons will carry forward from my time with them, but the qualities I see in you are those that you admire in your father — good job, “Tom, Tom on-the-hill.” Happy Father’s Day.

  5. Dave Wheitner says:


    I found your post so inspiring that I posted a link to it at the bottom of a Father’s Day post on my own site. I also recall going through the “Why do my friends think my dad is so cool?” phase, gaining a deeper understanding much later.


    Dave Wheitners last blog post..Jogging Through the Cemetery on Father’s Day

  6. Wonderful! I wish I’d met him and almost feel as if I had.

    Here’s something I found on my computer screen from my 17-year-old son when I got home from a weekend of being away. Since it’s kind of fun, and I can add it just by cutting and pasting, I think I will. It’s a rap song, so you’ll have to lay down your own beat.

    Hey pops, this is your day/
    So I’m about to go and tell it to ya straight/
    Ya don’t like rap, but you appreciate poetry/
    So in this poem I’m gonna set my feelings free/
    You are the best, there is no one better/
    Cuz of you I never have to fret or/
    Worry about my future/
    Because I know you’re behind me in everything I do/
    That’s why without hesitation I can say I love you/
    You do all you can, and this I understand/
    So I’m tryin to become what you are/
    My own personal shooting star/
    That’s right I look up to you knowin that your strong/
    And I try to do the same for Eric and Mom/
    I don’t blame you for anything that’s occurred/
    You’re my one and only dad the one that I adore/
    So again I just want to say I love you such much/
    The world has molded me, but you were the final touch/

    Hey dad it was too bad that we couldn’t spend the day together, but I figured since this is what I have been in to lately it would be a nice thing for you to read when you get home. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate everything you have done, do, and are going to do for me. I love you so much and I hope you had a great Father’s Day.

    Your Son

  7. Clem thanks man. You never know how readers will take a personal post like this.

    Patricia I’m glad you enjoyed it. I couldn’t help but write it. I was about to go golfing with my brother Brad and nephews, Josh and Ben and the emotions just kept coming up. Dad and his three sons went golfing on Father’s Day for over 20 years.

    Jeanne it sounds like you also were blessed with a loving and caring Dad. Indeed it is the actions that count. On another note, I visited your blog and could not post a comment because you don’t have Blogger set to accept the name/URL option.

    Fawn you are too kind. Knowing you as I do, I’m sure your boys will truly appreciate the beautiful example of authentic living you’ve set for them.

    Bill yep my Dad was quite a guy. Thanks for sharing your son’s expressed love. It’s beautiful to see a teenager reflecting appreciatively.

    Dave yes isn’t it funny how agin gives us wisdom. Thinks were just to volatile between Dad and I at that stage of my life to understand. I enjoyed your post and it’s obvious that you have a wonderful relationship with your Dad.

  8. Fathers are such a blessing. I put a post about my father and it was such a joy to write. There is something about putting a tribute into words for the whole world to see that just gives me goose bumps.

    Your father sounds like a great man. It looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matterss last blog post..Use Failure as Your Slingshot

  9. Hi Tom – I’m about the same age as you and my Dad died last year too. Our Fathers’ Day is early September and he went downhill on that day and died 2 days later.

    Thanks for sharing your story – my Dad also lent his handyman skills far and wide.


    Robins last blog post..Friday the 13th.

  10. Karl thanks my friend. You’re right, I had that same emotional experience. You n honor me with your kind words.

    Robin your Dad sounds like a great guy as well. I often find myself chuckling when I remember the results of some of our home improvement projects. It was more about the joy of working with him than anything else.

  11. Viviana says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Tom!! It’s so beautiful. I’m not surprised that so many people were touched by it.

    I’m pushing forty and sometimes I feel like my dad is STILL parenting me, in that I run everything past him and he gives advice. I think this works so well because there are no strings…no expectations on his part that I will follow his advice to the letter every time, in the way that a child is expected to obey authority. No, it’s evolved into much more than that. The only expectation is that I listen, and he does the same for me.

    I hope I can pay this forward!

  12. Viviana your relationship with your Dad sounds like a beautifully fulfilling one. When I read your comment about having no strings and no expectations to the advice it reminded me about why some folks like to hire life coaches. We have absolutely no agenda at all. We only want what is best for the client, just like your Dad. 🙂


  1. Jogging Through the Cemetery on Father’s Day says:

    […] your father is no longer physically present, you may also find this Father’s Day tribute by fellow life coach Tom Volkar […]

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