As I mentioned in my post on Mother’s Day, in so many ways, I am my father’s daughter. Stubborn, strong, creative, sensitive, intelligent, introverted, pensive, easily irritated and hurt, critical, and funny, (at times, what some might call a “smart ass”). Again, I offer you these two pictures as some measure of proof.
But there’s so much more to it than that. I think my Dad would agree that over the years our relationship has been complicated, but that’s because we are complicated people. Sometimes we drive each other nuts, make each other angry even, but we love each other like crazy (at times, heavy on the crazy).
What I’ve Learned from My Dad:
- How to figure things out. Being smart is something I inherited from both my parents, but what I got specifically from my dad is a mix of curiosity and intelligence and patience (which might look like stubbornness) that enables me to learn and understand things, fairly quickly and profoundly. My dad is wicked smart, is the kind of person who knows how to fix just about anything, can listen to a car running and know almost immediately what might be wrong with it, is interested in how things work, and why things are the way they are. He knows immediately when the logic of an argument or position isn’t working, when there is a fundamental flaw or someone is lying or there’s simply no common sense at work. He made his living as a mechanic, but I think if he’d been born during my generation, he would have been a computer person, an IT Specialist or a Computer Scientist, or at the very least a web designer like me. We both have the necessary tenacity and interest to allow us to stay with a problem until we can figure out the fix, the solution, the answer.
- A sense of rightness and fairness. I admit, this sometimes can get me in trouble, him too. I am so certain of what is right or fair, that I get very upset, bothered, irritated in situations where people misbehave. And yet, in circumstances that allow me to affect change, my sense of justice gives me power, makes me brave. I won’t let someone be bullied or cheated if I can help it, and I won’t behave badly myself either. I learned a solid sense of morality from my dad, how to be someone that can be trusted, to do what’s right because it’s right.
- How to take a joke. I am able to laugh at myself, to make fun, to kid around and not take myself so seriously because of my dad.
- A strong work ethic. Yes, work might be hard, you might hate it, but it’s what you do to take care of yourself and your family, and that is more important. It’s also important to pitch in and help if you can, even if technically your work is already finished.
- To have a kind, tender heart while still being a badass. My dad is a tough guy, but he has a soft heart. Some of my most vivid memories as a kid are of him sitting next to my bed and rubbing my back while I cried, or carrying me back to my bed after an episode of sleep walking…while I cried. But, he also didn’t let me get away with any crap, which led to me becoming a capable, strong grown-up. He’s not afraid to tell someone when they are being a jerk, and does not back down from a confrontation, (even though at times, he may have wished he had).
- To eat right and exercise. Again, this is another place where my mom certainly helped, but there was something extra about my dad’s influence. Back when it wasn’t normal or trendy or popular, he ate really healthy and worked out. It had a lot to do with me joining a gym at 16 when that was not what girls did, and being one of the first girls to take a weight training class at my high school, and is why I have always valued my physical health.
- To love science fiction, or a good scary story. Growing up, we watched the Twilight Zone and Star Trek together, shared a love of Stephen King novels. I still love these things, and they always remind me of my dad.
- A love of reading and music. I learned this from both my parents, although their tastes were slightly different. One thing my dad and I both enjoyed reading was what you might call “self-help,” books that we’d critique, but also glean for whatever wisdom we might find and be able to apply to our lives.
- A love for photography. Another profession my dad might have successfully pursued had his circumstances been different is photography. Now that I find myself taking more pictures, I remember him always with a camera slung around his neck, telling me to stay still while he took my picture, capturing the world around him as he saw it.
- And most importantly, to do and be exactly what I wanted. My dad wasn’t one of those old style dads who tried to steer me in the direction of things appropriate for a girl, or to limit my possibility in any other way. He told me, time and time again, to never let anyone tell me what to do or what to think or who to be. He always told me I could do or be whatever I wanted, and more importantly, he totally believed it, believed in me.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! And thank you. I miss and love you, and will see you soon!