Things my father taught me

My dad at the beach in 1978.

It’s one of my favorite pictures of my dad, taken in 1978 on a visit to a family member’s cottage in Angola on Lake Erie. My dad is in his own world, fully engage and absorbed in the moment. It’s actually one of the few pictures I have which feature my dad. In most photos, he’s sitting in the background, observing and listening. He has a quiet nature, but can offer insightful and illuminating takes on the conversation or add comments dripping with sarcasm. Dad is an astute observer with a sharp sense of humor. Seriously, there aren’t many people who can drop a Beowulf reference at a college basketball game, the memory of which still makes me laugh years later. ┬áThat takes intelligence, wit and a great sense of timing. He also has the ability to talk people down from the dramatic brink. I watched him do with my grandmother (his mother-in-law) several times. I have been fortunate enough to have him do the same for me.

I’d like to think I inherited some of his independent nature, his kindness and his empathy. I wish I had inherited his peaceful demeanor, but his calmness provides the example needed when I find myself out of balance. And as I continue to find things which bring me joy, he’s right there to celebrate with me, often being the first familiar face I see when I’m milling about the start of a race or searching for a second bottle of water right after I cross a finish line.

On this Father’s Day weekend, it’s time to reflect on just a few of the things my father taught me:

  • Always get a scorecard at a ball game.
  • Selective hearing can get you very far in life. It’s not about ignoring people, it’s about being focused on what’s important in the moment.
  • If you act like you know what you’re doing, people will leave you alone. This came in handy when in junior high we took a family vacation to Washington, D.C. and avoided the long tourist line at the Capitol Building by going in the employees entrance. This also came in handy when I completed my first marathon to find my father greeting me in the finisher’s chute along with my mother. Hey, if no one asks, keep going.
  • If the problem can be fixed with money, it really isn’t that big of a problem. There are ways to find money.
  • Speaking of money, my dad insists on helping me out when life throws me a financial curve ball. “You aren’t going to get anything when I die,” he says. “So take it now.”
  • Time spent outside is never wasted.
  • When wondering what might be around the next corner, there is only way to find out — go take a look-see.
  • Faith is lived, not showcased.
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