We’re probably in for a slow stock market today. Most traders are sitting on their hands, waiting until Wednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announcement on interest rates is out of the way before placing any big bets. 

So, I can’t really offer any new insight on the stock market today. Which… is probably just as well. My mind isn’t on the stock market anyway.

My mind is on my father.

Dad passed away almost eight years ago. My sons were just nine and 11 years old at the time. They were old enough to know their grandfather, but too young to form crystal-clear memories. So, as my family got together yesterday to celebrate Father’s Day, my boys asked me to talk about what it was like growing up with Grandpa. 

So I did.

And, for a couple of hours we all laughed a lot. We all cried a little. We all agreed that Dad would have liked our little tribute to him. And, we agreed he would have hated it a little bit, too.

When Father’s Day ended and I sat down to write today’s Market Minute essay, I couldn’t turn off the memories. I couldn’t focus on the stock market. So, if you don’t mind too much, we’ll get back to the stock market on Wednesday. For today, I’d like to tell you a little about my Dad…

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John Clark was born on a farm in Manhattan, Kansas, during the depths of the Great Depression. He grew up in a beaten-down shack with a leaky roof, where snakes routinely crawled inside for warmth. He raised chickens, milked cows, and brought in the crops at harvest time.

Shortly after graduating from high school, Dad joined the Air Force. He earned his paratrooper’s wings and served six years as a topographical surveyor. 

During his leave in San Francisco, he met the love of his life at a YMCA dance. He married my mom and they spent 48 years together as husband and wife.

Dad was a big, strong, solid rock of a man. But, he had the softest shoulders if you ever needed to lean on one.

He never demanded the spotlight. But, when he was in it, he owned it.

He was a man of few words. But, he always knew the right thing to say at just the right time.

Dad was serious… when the situation called for it. But, he’d prefer to put a lampshade on his head and dance around the room if mom would let him get away with it.

He was an inspired storyteller, a gifted writer, and an amazing public speaker. 

Dad coached my baseball teams when I was young. He was always there for the big games… the important stuff… for the big trophies. But whenever it was my turn at bat, Dad would leave the dugout. He’d wander down the left field line and stand beside the parked cars just beyond the fence.

“Why do you always hang out back there?” I asked dad once.

“I have to give you a target, don’t I?” he responded.

But I remember when I gave a speech at my high school graduation. I looked up at my family in the stands and searched desperately for my father’s face. It wasn’t there. He was hanging out behind the fence in left field. 

I didn’t understand why.

A few years ago, though, as I was coaching my own son’s baseball team and it was my kid’s turn to bat, I watched him walk into the batter’s box, raise the bat into position and get ready to hit the pitch. He looked so professional, so perfect, so all-star-ish. I was overcome with pride and I could feel a tear welling up in my eyes. I didn’t want anyone to see me, so I left the dugout and started walking down the left field line. 

That’s when I finally understood my dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you.

Best regards,

Jeff Clark