"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Anyone can be a father .... it takes someone special to be a dad!

I got a post on a blog the other day that mentioned Andy Rooney. It made me smile and think of my dad. We watched 60 Minutes together every Sunday and I always waited for Andy Rooney at the end, he was my favorite. 

I have a father, the man my mother was married to when I was born. He was my biological father. He died many years ago and he is actually a story for another time. With Father's Day this weekend this blog a tribute to my dad!

My mom re-married when I was four and my dad adopted me so that we would all have the same last name. He and my mother did not have other children .... I was it! My dad was not the easiest person in the world to live with. He had been in the military and believed there was only one way to do things "the right way." Growing up he was a meat & potatoes kind of guy and we would all have dinner together every night. We would watch "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" on the little black&white TV in the kitchen with the orange flower 70s wallpaper. We could only speak during commercials so mom and I would try and fit in all we had to say while they were trying to sell some sort of cleaning product. I know is sounds pretty intense, but it wasn't. I learned a lot during those dinners. 

In fact, the most important and valuable life lessons I learned, I have learned from my dad.

I remember he taught me self defense in my room when I was little. He told me if I was ever in trouble I should shout "Fire" because no one will stop and help you unless they think they could be in danger as well.

He taught me how to laugh at British humor ..... Benny Hill, Monty Python ..... these were shows we watched together. I had no idea what I was laughing at, but my dad thought it was funny so I laughed too. I remember my mom would always get mad because it seemed like whenever she walked in the room Benny Hill was chasing a gaggle of bra clad women.

He taught me to love animals because unlike people they had no agenda. 

He told me I could be whatever I wanted and that I should never let anyone tell me otherwise. 

He told me I should never stop learning. We read magazines like Time and Newsweek, he always read nonfiction.

He taught me to dress respectably. He ironed his own clothes for work everyday and wore a jacket and tie. He did not wear jeans until he retired (this was the same time he bought a motorcycle).

He taught me to appreciate long rides along back roads, he taught me to climb rocks at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester .... while my mother looked on panic stricken. 

He hated dance recitals because they took all day, but he never missed a dress rehearsal ... where he had the option to come and go while waiting for my next routine (which taught me to multi-task so I could fit in the things that are important to me). He came to every play and every concert (though I am sure my mom had to elbow him a couple of times to keep him from snoring).

He taught me that the first time it is an accident .... the second time I need to take the blame (this applied to spilled milk, broken dishes or falls down the hill). 

He taught me that if I could get a "B" I could have worked harder and gotten an "A." He taught me I should read every day.

He taught me the importance of saving a dollar, wearing clothes until they are worn out. Everything you purchase has a life expectancy, take care of it as you would care for yourself. 

He taught me to swear properly and with feeling. This did not go well with the other neighborhood mothers as I tried to explain to people it was not puppy poop ..... it was dog shit.

He taught me that he would go to the ends of the earth for me as he saved me from a swarm of bees whose hive I had plunged through while climbing the rocks in the backyard.

My dad taught me the importance and value of a good nap! 

But the most important lesson my dad taught me is that you don't need to be blood to be family. It is a lesson I have brought with me into my relationships and friendships, a lesson I have tried to instill in my children. If you lead with your heart, the rest will fall into place. 

Today my dad passes these lessons on to my boys. He tries not to ever miss a soccer game, or a concert, or a birthday party. He may be a little older, a little slower, a little more cranky - but the lessons are still the same.

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers, dads, grandpas, uncles, step-dads, brothers and friends that help raise our children! Enjoy your day! 

I found some interesting Father's Day blogs & stories I want to share:
The Science of Being a Dad
White House Urges Dads to Join Work/Life Balance Conversation