View Full Version : A Father's Day Topic - What Did Your Father Teach You?
06-15-2008, 12:04 PM
I didn't know my dad very well...messy divorce when I was little...yada, yada, yada.
We reconciled when I was an adult, around the time I gave birth to my son in 1994.
My dad passed away in 2001, about six months before 9/11.
During those years, we saw each other about four times and spoke frequently on the phone.
So, what did I learn from my dad during those few years?
I learned how to laugh at myself and just be silly. He was originally from France and had a strong French accent. Yet, he lived in Texas and was an expert in fine wine, dealing with some of the nicest restaurants in Texas.
So, it was funny, when we visited him, to see this Frenchman, wearing a cowboy hat, drinking extremely good liquor, and doing the silliest things. I would like to think that I got my sense of humor from him.
Oh, and I also learned how much fun it is to surprise someone.
For my birthday one year, he surprised me by flying in to see me. He brought with him the most beautiful cake that one of the chefs from one of the restaurants had made just for me. It was something like you'd see on on TV. Fabulous. And the look of joy on my dad's face when he jumped out from behind the bushes...after I almost had a heart attack...was priceless.
I'd love to hear your stories...
06-15-2008, 12:28 PM
What a great topic...I'm sorry your Dad has passed away, but it sounds like you have some great memories to look back on.
My Dad...quite simply is my hero. I remember a conversation when I was 30 where my Dad was asking why I kept getting into relationships with these guys who were clearly not right for me or marriage material (Dad was quite protective of his girl) and I looked at him and said, 'Dad, don't you get it...I can't find a guy as good as you and until I do, I won't get married!' He turned toward me with tears in his eyes and just looked at me and smiled. That's my Dad. And it is true - that's why I didn't get married until almost two years after that conversation. Of course, now I sometimes complain that I DID marry my Dad...but that's another topic entirely.
My Dad taught me...the power of commitment. My Mom had a stroke when I was 8 and she had to re-learn EVERYTHING from eating to talking to walking afterward. She was a wonderful woman and fought back because she said she wasn't done raising me yet and gained back most everything she'd had before the stroke. But as time wore on, she developed arthritis and so Dad had to take on more of the household duties and whatnot. Mom did what she could and probably more than she should have, but Dad really was a champ at keeping everything going. One day, I could tell he was frustrated over something he had to do and I asked him how he could stand having to do so much on top of a full-time job...I wasn't knocking Mom, just wondered how he could manage it all and still smile. He looked at me and said very matter-of-factly something about the fact that he made a commitment to my mother when they married and he intended to keep that commitment because that's what you do in a marriage. Wow.
My Dad taught me...courage. My Mom got sick in the last year of her life and ultimately died from a second stroke after quite a period of suffering that included falls, confusion and a lot of understandable sadness because no doctor could explain why she was losing herself...and although it was hard and of course we had moments where it seemed too much, my Dad showed up anywhere Mom was with his best smile and trademark sense of humor that kept her going. No, he wasn't perfect, and I know for a fact he wishes he was somehow better than he was...but that's the beauty of it - he still showed up every day and was there when needed.
My Dad taught me...the importance of family. We ate dinner together every night. When I was younger, we would take turns choosing books and after we ate, one of us would read aloud a chapter. My favorite was the Little House on the Prairie series. Dad could make each character come alive and I know Mom remembered and enjoyed those times too. We would have Sunday breakfast together...yummy French toast and bacon or eggs and sausage or eggs and smokies...but always together. Dad also exposed me to lots of things I am sad to say I was not mature enough to appreciate then but I sure do now - like Broadway musicals, a dinner train for my sixteenth birthday, trips to places like Arizona and California and Maui, etc. We got to go lots of amazing places and do lots of fun things.
My Dad taught me...to have fun. Dad was always joking around with me and taught me to laugh at myself because life will laugh at you sometimes and it's a long road if you cannot laugh at yourself. From silly jokes to pranks he would pull on colleagues at work or us at home, he was always fooling around to get a laugh and a smile...and it always worked.
There's so much more I could say about my Dad, but that gives you a good picture of who he is. He used to live out here by me but moved back to Minnesota a few years ago to marry a wonderful woman whose husband had been Dad's co-worker and friend (he passed away around the same time Mom did in 2001). I miss him and think of him every day but knowing he is happy (especially now that he just bought his dream cabin in Wisconsin and a boat to fish in) makes it easier.
Dad's the best friend I could ask for and I'm so proud he is my Dad.
06-15-2008, 12:44 PM
A really great thread. The greatest lessons my father taught me were in acceptance and forgiveness. He never wanted me to be more than I really was. His only aspiration for me was to be happy. He also had an enormous talent for forgiveness. I once actually ruined a car, the only car we had, by being careless. He never blamed me and I never heard a cross word about it. Its been 26 years since he's been gone and I'm still benefiting from the lessons he taught me.
06-15-2008, 01:22 PM
My dad died in July 1999, very close to his 70th birthday. He'd been there for me my whole life, and even though neither of us were very good at expressing our feelings, I'm so glad I was at the hospital shortly before he died and was able to squeeze his hand and see the look on his face.
He taught me so many things that I didn't fully appreciate at the time, but now I do. He taught me that I don't need to have a bunch of possessions to be happy (well, maybe except for yarn!), and he showed me how to stay out of debt.
He took our family to Mexico for three or four summers when I was still very young (his parents were both from Mexico) and in doing so he firmly impressed on me how lucky I was to live in the US and to have all the things I had. Again, from that experience I learned that you can still be content in your life no matter how poor or how rich you are.
I'm sure I benefited from his dedication to family. Every morning he got up at 5:30 and made hot cereal for breakfast; he'd eat his portion and then leave the rest warming in a pan on the stove while he took his carpool to work. He came home every day at 4:00 and was home with us every night. I never really appreciated that until I was old enough to realize that not all families had dads who were always there.
06-15-2008, 10:04 PM
Well, my story's not too exciting. My father is still alive and living with my mother. He was in the Navy so many times he was deployed for 9 -10months at a time on ship. When he was home I was glued to his side - I jest not - from about the age of 9 I had a jersey and was "on" my dad's office softball team. Finally about 14/15yrs old they actually let me in the line-up. What Dad taught me : financial responsibility, to do the right thing, and perhaps most important ... that I could do anything I wanted and that being female was never an excuse for anything ( I was a tomboy until about age 25). He let me stub my toe and learn to take what life threw my way. When playing ball if I got hurt and the guys tried to baby me he would brush them off and send me back out, he made me change the oil in my car, talked my mother into letting me go away to college and helped me apt hunt when I found my first job out of state.
Funny Dad story - My dad took me to an interview for the Naval Academy and so I was dressed up in a knee length green wool skirt and argyle sweater (no makeup) and of course he was in uniform. We stopped for lunch on the way back to school and happen to be in the college part of town. Instead of taking me back to school he took me home to change b/c he wasn't ready for college guys to be looking at his daughter ! I was oblivious but according to dad the guys in the diner had watched me walk in and out and although I was a senior in high school he wasn't ready for guys to notice his baby :roflhard: !! He told me to put my regular clothes back on.
Having said all that I have to give a lot of credit to my mother for raising 2 children and working full time while her husband was deployed. She's tough as nails. For that reason - both of them walked me down the aisle at my wedding and "gave me away."
06-15-2008, 10:45 PM
I lost my dad last year. He died in his sleep after a day of gardening. My dad taught me to enjoy every day. I was his "son" until after 4 daughters he finally got a boy. I learned to hunt and fish and garden from him. Just like vaknitter my dad was a career navy man. He worked his way from sailor to commander and was often gone to sea for months at a time.
He taught me not to see the necessary chores of life as work, but to enjoy them as a chance to feel a sense of accomplishment. He loved each and every day and I try to do the same as a tribute to him.
He was deeply in love with my mother for 57 years, even when she was difficult to love. He continued being an active gardener even after a stroke which cost him his speech and slowed his mental acuity some. He never met a stranger and continued to make friends in the retirement home though he couldn't talk and was pretty much deaf as well.
I loved him dearly and idolized him and miss him every day.
Thankyou for this marvelous thread and I'm glad so many of you had fathers to admire.
06-15-2008, 11:20 PM
My father taught me compassion: I never saw my dad harm a single thing. Even when there were bugs in the house, he'd grab a cup out of the kitchen cabinet, cover the bug with the cup, slide a piece of paper under it and release the bug outside. He taught me all forms of life deserve to be on this planet equally and we should never be so vain to put ourselves before any other living creature.
My father taught me the importance of family: Though my dad worked and went to school in the evenings, full time, for a good part of my childhood, I never once felt like my dad was never around. He made sure that when he was home, he spent as much time as he possibly could with us kids and I was always my dad's buddy. My mom and dad told me a story about when I was little, before my sister and brother were born...My mom and dad took me to a park up the street from our house. We sat on top of a hill, me on my dad's lap. No one spoke a word and out of the clear blue, I said to my dad, "I love you too, daddy." I must have been no more than 3. My dad didn't say I love you, but, I must have just felt it in the way he was holding me.
My father taught me equality: Not only has my father always been compassionate about animals and bugs, but, other people as well. He taught me to never judge people on appearance, gender, race, etc., and that no one is better than anyone else. We're all human and each of us deserve to be treated with equal respect.
My father taught me to think for myself: My father never made my decisions for me and taught me the importance of thinking for myself. He taught me to never follow the crowd just because "everyone else is" and to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. I remember in elementary school, there was a boy who lived a couple houses up from me. We went to the same school and one day my mom drove me to school and offered my friend a ride too. Of course he accepted the offer. When I got to school some girls were trying to give me a hard time about being friends with this kid: he was overweight and didn't have many friends. I stood up for my friend and told them he was my friend and he was a really nice boy. I didn't care what they thought and it really made me mad that they were talking badly about him. They never made fun of him around me anymore, and, I never did become friends with those girls. Even when I had friends my parents weren't particularly fond of, they let me make my own decision as to whether I wanted to remain friends with those people. And, I usually didn't remain friends with them for very long.
My father taught me respect, tolerance, understanding, appreciation, how to be a good person, but most of all, my dad taught me what father truly means. I am so proud of my dad, proud to be his daughter, and I love him with all of my heart.
06-15-2008, 11:32 PM
My father taught me that discipline means not punishment in anger, but it means to correct & teach. He taught me to discipline my children with love. To make sure they know that they're loved, wanted & very important to me.
He taught me to enjoy the outdoors.
when I was young he told me how important it was to make eye contact with people, he told me a story about when he was in Philly, he noticed a 2 women talking and walking, and one of them had tears in her eyes.
I still try to do that, even living in the country. I also try to talk to everyone. I grew up with many of his friends involved in our lives, which made it kinda confusing to Identify as "white" (I am blonde and blue) when I had Hispanic, Kalmuk, and African-Americans as Uncles, and Irish, German/Ahmish, and Mexican Aunts. Complete with all the Strong desire for civil rights, and none of the adverse experiences until I was a tweenager
Lets see, i also learned to be as supportive of the next generations as possible, in any way possible that does not harm or weaken them. I also learned to appreciate ANY beauty you can find, be it the smile on a dog or pigs face as you scratch their ears, or the subtle colors in the sky, or even the grain of the wood of a dead tree in the forest.
his grandfather is credited with the quote in my signature, but it was his mother who told it to him. (my great great grandmother)
He lived with integrity, and died with dignity. I will never be able to live up to him, but I can try.
06-16-2008, 11:03 AM
Absolutely nothing, seriously!
06-16-2008, 12:34 PM
My dad taught me
how to sort laundry
to look both ways before crossing the street
how to balance my checkbook
how to make my bed
how to iron a shirt
how to have faith even when life looks bleak
how to pack for a move (just this weekend I learned this!)
and much more