A Father's Day Tribute to California Dads

28 min
John Borg holds a photo of his father Joseph and his sister Mary in the 1950s. (Courtesy of John Borg)

With Father's Day on Sunday, the California Report Magazine is celebrating all kinds of dad, granddads, fathers and father figures this week. Listen to the whole episode or just the part that reminds you of your father. Subscribe to The California Report Magazine podcast while you're at it.

Letters to My Father in Prison: 'In His Absence, I Loved Harder'

USC student Melissa Dueñas’ dad was in and out of jail and prison her entire life. When he was out, his imagination and sense of adventure filled her life with laughter and joy. When he was locked up, the two of them kept in touch by constantly writing letters. When she was a little girl, nothing brightened her day more than coming home to one of his immaculately handwritten letters. But as she got older, Melissa grew tired of her father's empty promises — to change for the better, stay out of jail and stop using drugs. This is a story of how a daughter can grapple with love, pain, nostalgia and trauma simultaneously.

What Sounds Remind You of Your Father?

We opened up the phone lines for listeners to call in and share stories about the sounds that remind them of their fathers and grandfathers. Here we hear their messages, and the sounds of foghorns, an electric carving knife, a piano tune, and more. These touching memories are certain to get you thinking about the sounds that remind you of your father.

For Father's Day, a Trip to the Cemetery … With a Weed Whacker

John Borg's father died 12 years ago, but he maintains a Father's Day ritual that helps him feel connected — weed-whacking the grass around his father's grave, which sits just 77 steps from his house in the coastal village of Bolinas. That ritual reminds him of his youth, when his father would give him and his brothers haircuts in the family room. This essay from a listener goes out to all those who have lost fathers and may struggle to find joy in the holiday.