Today is the day of celebration for the man I call my dad. He has given me so much in this life and I couldn’t be more grateful. So, I thought, who better than to give a shout out to on this beautiful Saturday?? I’d like to reflect on some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my father, which I can only hope to pass on to my (possibly in the futurish one day) children as well:
- Hard work still counts for something. No matter what you are doing in this life, whether you went to college or not, people will take you seriously if you show you have ambition. Words are just words and a degree is useless if you don’t have the willingness to roll up your sleeves and pay your dues. Even if you’re coming fresh out of college, this can still mean you might have to accept a lower position than you had planned on, but you have the potential of moving up quicker. (I know, we were all led to believe otherwise.)
- Manners matter. Ask anybody in my little hometown of Circle, Montana and they will tell you that my sister and I were the most well-mannered girls there. It sounds silly I know. People used to tell my dad all the time when we’d go into bars (it was eastern Montana), restaurants, or businesses around town. There is something to be said for being polite and treating people with the respect that you’d wish to receive yourself. In the age of technology, we can become disconnected from others, including our ability to recognize the simple fact that we are all human. Being polite is most certainly not a thing of the past.
- Parents are not your friends. (At least not for awhile.) My dad is an ex-Marine and was one of the strictest parents ever. Where was I five minutes after the movies, dances, and other school functions ended? Well, I was home of course and if I wasn’t then I was probably out of my mind because the wrath of my father wasn’t something one wanted to deal with once, let alone ever, in this lifetime. It sucked and I thought my dad was unfair. Of course I thought those things; I was a teenage girl. What teenager knows what’s good for them? Parents are protectors, mentors, teachers, providers, and are in charge of all around making sure you’re a decent human being who will contribute to society. So there’s that. In no way are they obligated to be your friend. The day will come where you cross that divide and can talk to your parents about life. You might even call them for advice because you realize they know a lot more than you. They kind of become your friend and they just get to relish in this awesome person that you’ve become, that they were a part of. Nothing is better than having a beer with my dad and getting to know him as more than my dad, but as a person. That’s pretty special.
- Make time for the moments. I absolutely hated getting up at 4:30 in the morning to go hunting. People should not be awake in the morning when it is dark outside. That isn’t normal at all. We ate breakfast, packed our cooler for the day, and would head out. I fell asleep in the truck for most of the morning until my dad would wake me up to tell me that there was a deer nearby. At the time, it was just hunting with my dad, just like we always did. But, I learned to drive on those back-roads. That’s where I got my first deer, a buck, and my dad was so proud that we had to stop at all the bars to show everybody in town. Whether we were fishing, hunting, or just spending family time together on the weekend, all of it mattered to my dad. While I couldn’t see it then, I’m so thankful for all of those memories now.
- Just be happy and don’t give a damn about anybody else. My father has never given one iota about what other people think of him. Obviously, this can be rather embarrassing as a teenager when he is singing loudly in the aisles of the grocery store or partaking in a variety of fatherly shenanigans. And, it most certainly was. I wouldn’t undo any of it though. I’ve always been fiercely independent and my father has only solidified my belief that happiness is found internally. No matter where you live or what you do, that spark is something you must ignite within yourself. Nobody else will make that happen so leave your pity party and make your own happiness, whatever that means for you.