Oh man, this year will be 17 years since my dad has passed and this is still so hard to write. I didn’t have long with my dad on this earth but he was a very productive man so he taught me a lot in the 16 years I had with him. He taught me so much and I know he’d be so happy knowing that I was sharing it with others.
- Spoil your kids with your presence, not presents. We didn’t always get very much for Christmas or birthdays but my dad spent time with us and used the time he had with us to teach us and help us learn and grow and that lasts way longer than any gifts we could have received.
- Do life with your kids and pour into them. My dad would take us everywhere and do everything with us. My dad would take us to work with him all the time and he wouldn’t just take us he would put us to work too lol. He would have us help him and teach us everything about what he was doing as he was doing it. We were old enough to sit in the house and watch cartoons; in fact, I’m sure we would’ve loved the opportunity lol. But my dad was always making sure we were being productive. He would make us go outside and help him do whatever he had on his agenda for the day. We didn’t like it at the time, but my brothers were the only kids that knew how to rebuild an engine and fix swimming pool pumps. I’m sure I was the only girl in my class that could weld or drive tractor at a young age. He taught us everything he possibly could. I remember he taught me how to drive a stick at only 12 years old (we lived out in the middle of nowhere and we weren’t on any roads). Even on car rides I remember he would have me spell out every street sign we passed (and then he took credit for me making it into the Spelling Bee in 5th grade). He used every moment and every opportunity to teach us and pass down his knowledge.
- Treat everyone with the same respect. My dad treated everyone with the same kindness and respect from the homeless man on the street, to the janitor in the hall, to the owner of the company he worked for. He taught us that every life had meaning and purpose and we were all equal in God’s eyes.
- Don’t hold grudges and forgive often. My dad was a very strict, tough dad and I was (still am, if you ask my husband) just as stubborn as he was. He wasn’t always the easiest man to get along with so, of course, in my young teenage years we butt heads quite a bit. I was not his biggest fan at that time. I felt like he was too tough on us (which, he really was at times) and all he wanted to do was control me and that drove me nuts. Sometimes, I would go stay with my older sister for a little while in the summers when school was out. So in the summer of 2000 my dad drove me up to Tennessee and dropped me off to stay with my big sis. A few times a week my mom and dad would call to chat and see how things were going. During one of those conversations my dad had got on me about something and I was annoyed about it (I, honestly, can’t remember what it was). The next time they called was the last time I had the opportunity to speak to my dad. It was a moment I’ve replayed in my head over and over ever since. My mom called and we chatted as usual and as we were wrapping it up she said, “Your dad is right here, do you want to talk to him?” Hopefully, he wasn’t close enough to the phone to hear my snotty, teenage response as I said with disdain, “No! I don’t want to talk to him!” I felt bad after we hung up, knowing that I shouldn’t have said it but not really knowing it would be something that would haunt me to this day. What I wouldn’t give to go back and relive that moment differently!!! But we never know what is on the other side of our poor decisions until it is too late! Even now over a decade later I’m crying like a baby writing this thinking how differently that phone call would have went if I had the chance to go back in time. I can’t undo the damage that was done, but I’ve used it as a lesson in my life since. I always try to resolve conflict as soon as possible and I try to be quick to forgive. You never know when will be the last time you will see someone so don’t make it something you wish you could do over.
- Love like there is no tomorrow. Tomorrow is promised to no one! Tell your loved ones what they mean to you everyday. Don’t let beautiful things be left unsaid! My dad was a brilliant man and I could write for days about how incredible he was and the amazing things he did for us but, unfortunately, I never told him. Now I live with all these things bottled up in my heart that should have been said to him. Things that would have blessed him and our relationship. You’ll never regret telling someone you love how amazing they are but you will regret not telling them!
I’m officially cried out. I hope you can learn some things from what my dad’s life and death taught me. He loved to teach and share knowledge so I’m sure he’d be tickled pink knowing I was writing about some of the many many things he taught me. I love you so much daddy and I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you that more often!