Father’s day is right around the corner, and this has me thinking of my dad and of all the important lessons that he has taught me over the years. Lessons that helped shape me into who I am, and lessons that I hope I am passing onto my own children.
I grew up in a very traditional home. Though both my parents worked, mom was the nurturing homemaker while my father was the disciplinarian. There were many days when my siblings and I would be squabbling – OK, fighting loudly – that in turn had my mom shouting at us kids, “Just wait until your father gets home!” Knowing what that would mean if she really told on us – we usually shaped up pretty quickly! We all knew that my dad was all business when it came to our behavior. Respecting and listening to our mom was rule number one!
Right behind that rule there were many other lessons and sayings that my father constantly shared with us. American proverbs meant to teach us the value of hard-work and responsibility. Some of his favorite sayings were, “If you are going to do it – do it right. Do it right the first time!” And “Keep your nose to the grindstone.” Yes, my dad taught me to be a hard worker.
Not just because of his sayings, but because he lived what he preached. My dad worked hard to provide for us. We moved from North Dakota to California when I was just a toddler. We eventually ended up in Los Angeles where my dad worked as a stockbroker – I used to love visiting him at his office on Wilshire Boulevard.
I’d say those visits were influential. My first job out of college was in the finance industry, and I ended up working for the same firm my dad worked for decades earlier.
We then moved from Los Angeles to Northern California when I was 12. This move was based on my dad starting his own business in San Francisco. Anyone that has started a business knows the hours-on-end that goes into making it successful. Yes, I watched my dad work hard. For years it was seven days a week of work for him! Lucky for me, I had a regular weekend job working for him when I was in high school. The fact that he was in the clothing business was an extra perk for sure!
Another lesson from my dad that has served me well is to be responsible and to always accept responsibility for any mistakes that I make along the way. Yes, we all make mistakes. I can still see that look of his, as he would say to me, “If you’re going to dance, you need to play the fiddler.” Yes, every time I got in trouble, I had to deal with the consequences. I think I learned a lot of things the hard way. But even as my dad dished out the consequences, he was always there with his love and support.
Work hard. Be Responsible. Important lessons for sure, but that was only one side of the coin, because if you know my dad you know that he also knows how to have a good time. Family is number one with my dad, and time with family and friends are to be treasured!
He taught me and my children to love Lake Metigoshe. This is a lake in North Dakota where my grandfather (my father’s father) originally built a cabin. His love of the lake and all that goes with the lake (fishing, boating, family, water-skiing, reading in the hammock, jumping off the dock, and making ice-cream) has been passed down through the generations.
And speaking of ice cream….making ice-cream has been one of my father’s favorite activities ever since I can remember. My dad’s special recipe is chocolate-banana. This is a treat that we have been making since I was little and my job was to sit on top of the hand-crank ice-cream machine. (This stabilized the machine when the ice cream started firming up and made hand-cranking hard.) My dad has one rule about ice-cream – If you want to eat any, you have to help make it. Yes, he sticks to the rule! Even though you can buy electric ice-cream machines, my dad will have none of that! He will only use a hand-crank ice cream machine, and everyone needs to help turn the handle if they want a scoop.
Faith is also a cornerstone of my father’s life. I have learned from him, that when life gets hard your faith can help you manage. Yes, my dad is a person that goes to church most every day. His faith has helped him weather the storms that come with life. I admire his unwavering faith.
My dad has always been there for me. Not only while I was growing up and living at home, but as an adult as I have navigated careers, traveled through a divorce, and raised my own children. He has always been protective of me. He has taught me so much through his words, his actions, and his love. This love, support, and protection of his family is being passed on through the generations.
Though my parents live hundreds of miles away from me, I am very lucky that I can pick up the phone and chat with them whenever I want to. I look forward to visiting them the end of this month. While I will not be spending father’s day with my dad, I will be thanking him for all of the important life lessons that he has taught me. Work hard, be responsible, treasure your family, nurture your faith, and have fun. The rest will take care of itself.
Dad, for all those times you asked me, “Am I getting anything through that thick skull of yours?” I can soundly answer, “Yes! Yes, Dad, I heard, I listened, I learned. Thank you. I love you.”
I’ve shared my favorite life lessons from dad with you. I’d love to hear about yours! Leave a comment sharing your favorites.