I used to think my dad could do everything.
When our 3-room bungalow proved too small for our family, he drew up some blueprints, bought the materials, called all his brothers, and together they built another piece on the house. When he didn’t like any of the pajamas that were sold in stores, he made his own pattern, bought the material, and sewed himself pajamas. When our car wasn’t working, he was usually the one who fixed it. And we never needed to buy any artwork because everything dad painted was better than what we could find in the store. As if that isn’t enough, my dad has a beautiful singing voice, he is great at math, and he was quite the fighter back in the day.
In other words: My dad is awesome.
Not that he’ll ever tell you, because my dad is also extraordinarily humble, preferring to allow his actions to speak for him, rather than bragging about how great he is.
That’s one of the first lessons he taught me—not by telling me, but by example. I never once got the sense that he believed his own hype, even as people showered him with compliments. Actually, the more people complimented him, the more determined he was to reinforce the fact that he is merely a custodian of his gifts, rather than the source.
He never took any credit—even when it was due him, because that’s just dad.
People are always telling me how wonderful my mother is, but one of the keys to my mother’s success is the unwavering support of my father. My mom is as outgoing as my dad is reserved, so it’s easy for others to overlook him, or take his presence for granted. But, it takes a good, secure, man to allow his wife to shine without being threatened by it.
That’s my dad. He’s reserved, comfortable in his own skin, sarcastic, suffers fools badly, has a song lyric for every occasion, and more “life-as-it-relates-to-combat” analogies to fill several books.
As I would later find out, my dad cannot do everything. He can’t spell, he doesn’t like reading for pleasure, and he does not like being told what to do. (Especially if it involves what he should and should not eat.) But he gives great, straight-forward advice. He is always there for you when you need him (granted, he might not be there right away, but he does show up eventually!) And when I was being tormented by depression and anxiety, he was the one person who didn’t coddle me. Instead, he reminded me that I was blessed, that I would not feel sad forever, and most importantly, how valued I am. (Of course, the most effective thing he said was, “You need to suck it up and get out of your own way!” but he said the nice things first)
Throughout my life, my father passed on many lessons. Some I embraced and some, I decided, were more for my brother.(I mean not to be stereotypical, but I’m not going to be punching anyone any time soon. I’m a reader, not a boxer.)
A few years ago, my dad and I would go to Tim Horton’s every morning before work and have coffee. It was during those coffee chats that I got to know dad as a person, rather than just “my dad”. I discovered that the two of us are more alike than I thought. I also found out that he’s a person with feelings, so I should probably be more understanding toward him. It’s funny, when you’re young and immature you see your parents as barriers between you and the life you want to live. Once I learned about everything my parents had to go through, I found out that they were speaking from experience, and were trying to prevent me and my brother from making the same mistakes they did.
For every dumb mistake I’ve made, I can think back and find an instance where my parents warned me about it. My mom would warn me gently, but my dad would tell me, straight-up, “That’s a stupid idea.” (And he was always right)
On the other hand, with every success, I can hear his encouragement. He’s the one who told me that he didn’t raise us to be “cowards, quitters, slackers, or followers” and to “always stand for what is right, even if you have to stand by yourself.” He was the one who told me that I could never be the person God created me to be if I spent my life afraid of what people might think.
Best advice ever.
So, this is a tribute to my dad, who flourished in an environment that would have crushed a more fragile person; whose strong faith set the example for his wife; and who has many talents but very little to say about them.
My dad had truly been a blessing in my life. Even though we disagree often, and have competitions to see who can be the most snide, (I’m snide, but I’m no match for dad!) we also love each other unconditionally.
My mother always jokes that dad is the reason I’m such a princess. What can I say? When your father conducts himself like a king, and treats your mother like a queen, the princess thing comes honestly.
One of the best gifts a girl can have is a father who loves and protects her.
Have a great Thursday 🙂