Lessons From My Father

Photo Credit: David Niblack, Imagebase.net

Photo Credit: David Niblack, Imagebase.net

It’s only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home. It’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.
– Margaret Truman

Over the past few months, I have been trying to strengthen my relationship with my dad. It wasn’t terrible before, but it definitely could have been better. And because of some dark shadows in my past, I had developed a terrible habit of seeking emotional support in men that are not my father. But now, as those shadows are coming to light, I know I want to change that. I would love for nothing more than my father to be the main man in my life. And over these past 25 years, he has taught me more than I could ever repay him for, and of course, at the time, I never fully understood what he was saying or what he was trying to show me. But dad, I’m coming to realize that the older I get, the wiser you become. Thank you for being my first teacher, my biggest fan, and for being the first man I had the privilege of loving.

Two years ago, my father started a new job that has him working long hours, picking up the slack for others’ carelessness, and all the while never receiving enough credit for his hard work. Yet he rarely complains. He understands that numerous individuals’ suffer circumstances that are far worse than he does. And from the youngest age, he has instilled in me the importance of hard work. My father and his family came from almost nothing, and he continues to work his ass off to create a better life for his wife and two daughters. I only hope I can have half the drive he has. He has proven to be a living example of someone I truly admire. And sadly, I don’t think I tell him enough even though he deserves to hear it. My dad is a superhero. Seriously, though. For the entirety of first, second, and third grade, he had my friends and me convinced he was Batman.

And because he built such a tremendous life for us, he has always encouraged me to strive to be the best version of myself and to reach for any and all dreams I hold dear. To this day, my dad will tease me for going to church on Sundays – not in a malicious way, but he has never been religious. He has never needed God or any sort of deity to validate who he is as a person. He has never seen value in those that attend church only to be indecent human beings moments after leaving. In other words, he believes no religion and no amount of adherence to that religion automatically makes you a good person. And so, although I go to church, I constantly take that thought with me. Church or not, my dad wants me to be the best version of myself. And I want that not only to make him proud, but so I can take pride in myself as well.

My father has also always been a fan of tough love. And me being little Miss Sensitive over here, that hasn’t always worked out in favor of my tear ducts. But now, coming into adulthood, I understand that the confrontations and even the yelling came (and come) from a place of love and concern. And even when I’m wrong – even when I completely screw up, hit a road block, fail – he has demonstrated unconditional love. I have broken down in front of him, screamed at him, cursed at him, but at the end of the day, he is one of the few people that truly know that in those fleeting moments of our terrible reality, we are family. I am half of him, and during my lowest of lows, he will pick me back up.

Because my dad did not come from a lot, he has proven the true meaning of how much the little things count. And while he has spoiled me with big things, he has placed far more effort into spoiling me through the little things. He has started my car a few minutes early on cold, winter mornings so that when I would get in, the leather wouldn’t turn my ass into an icicle. He has made me tea when I’m sick. Given me his coupons to Sports Authority because he knows I am a fitness fanatic. And in no way is he performing these little acts of kindness to turn me into a self-entitled bitch – he simply does these things because we are family. And families take care of one another. We don’t let one another falter, suffer, or freeze to death via a leather seat. And in other ways, I am learning to take care of him. Both my dad’s father and my grandfather’s father passed away at the age of 51, so last year, when my dad turned 52, I felt the greatest sense of relief and took it upon myself to ensure he sticks around for 53, 54, and many more decades after that. While he has warmed my car up and made me tea, I have packed him carrots and almonds and quinoa so that he can take snacks on the go (rather than sugary granola bars or candy that find a home in most office kitchens). I have emphasized to him (amid tears, at times) how important it is that he be around to walk me down the aisle one day. So I have signed us up for fun 5k races, I try and free up as much time for him as I can so that he has more time for himself, and ultimately, I am striving to repay him for all that he has done and continues to do for me.

And in a more practical sense, my father has taught me everything I need to know about finances and handling money. Much more than any accounting class has ever taught me. Thanks to him, I know all about Roth IRAs, how to do my taxes, the benefits of owning rental properties, and what APR actually stands for (it’s annual percentage rate, in case anyone else was as confused as I formerly was). But seriously, spend ten minutes with my dad and all confusion will cease.

For most of my life, I don’t think I truly understood my dad. I had been quick to judge his actions and his choices, and for the longest time (and every once in a while now), we didn’t see eye to eye. But I know now, he has been pretty much right about everything (but if y’all could refrain from telling him that, I’d appreciate it). It’s enough that he’s always clamored he is right in his thinking, but for him to actually know it’s true – well, that kind of information can’t be healthy for anyone’s ego. But dad, I understand now. I can’t promise I will always understand, but I do know that everything you have done is for the greater good of this family. You have sacrificed, struggled, and put the three women in your life ahead of yourself. So thank you for the love, support, and most importantly, the invaluable lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

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  1. […] few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the things I’ve learned from my father. Because I love and adore my parents equally, I have […]

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