By Lori Ann King
June is a time of celebration: Fathers have their day, gardens are planted, schools get out, the days get longer and summer officially begins. This is Dad’s favorite time of year and in honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share a few life lessons I learned from him.
Dad is one of the most hard-working men I know. Prior to his retirement, he often worked 50-60 hour weeks, and that was Monday through Friday. His first job paid the bills, while his second or third job paid for toys, vacations, and dreams. His message was clear: “…with a little determination and a lot of hard work, you can do anything and be anything you want to be.”
Pursue Your Dreams
Dad gave me my dreamer’s heart and assured me that if there is something I really want, I should never turn my back on it. Even when one of those dreams took me 2,000 miles away from him to live in Gunnison Colorado, he supported me, believed in me, and respected my dreams.
I honestly don’t know how he did it. Regardless of how many hours Dad worked – on the job, the yard, the house, the boat, and the pool – he always showed up. Family was his priority and he made it to a majority of my soccer and softball games and track events and to Sister’s band performances and tennis matches. Not to mention he was home for our family dinner most nights of the week.
While Sister and I were away at college, five years in total, Dad sent each of us a weekly card, writing his own words of encouragement on every single one. “We’re proud of you,” “Keep your chin up,” “We believe in you,” “Keep smiling,” and “Hang in there and everything will come your way” were common themes. His encouragement spread to our friends, as he spent countless hours teaching us all how to water-ski, cheering us on every step of the way.
Do Your Own Thinking
I still tease Dad about this one. His advice echoes in my mind on so many occasions. This was more than a simple request not to follow the crowd. It was about independence and the ability to accomplish any dream and goal as long as I put my mind into it.
Food Tastes Best When You Grow it Yourself
Every Spring, Dad spends hours preparing, planting, nurturing and harvesting a garden. As a child, I would trail behind him as he rototilled. I felt the need to “rescue” worms as he uncovered them. (I may have even brought them to the dinner table in my pocket. How did he know?) These days, we both still enjoy lettuce, tomatoes, and green beans fresh from the garden to the table. Food you’ve grown yourself always tastes best!
Nature Brings Perspective
From sunrise Easter services on the hill to camping and hiking in the Adirondacks, somehow God always seems closer in the mountains, on the lake, or anywhere outdoors. We enjoy days of boating where we feel the sun and the wind on our face while we take in the beauty of blue skies, crystal clear waters, prestigious mountains and stunning sunsets. All the world’s problems disappeared in nature, or at the very least, our very own.
Time is More Precious Than Money
As a child, I made a lot of my own gifts including a “Please Stop Smoking” poster and a “Tootin’ Truck driver” Christmas tree ornament. As I got older and asked Dad what he wanted, his reply was “just you.” Spending excess or going into debt is never required. Just come home and give me your time.
When You’re Feeling Blue, Get Busy
When I was far away from home and feeling lonely and homesick, Dad’s voice of experience and a bit of tough love taught me how to improve my mood: “You need to get your act together. You’ve got to get out and make some new friends. Take walks, go jogging, join a club… do what you have to in order to get your mind off home. You could even study extra hard. I’ve been through it myself.” Indeed, he had. In the Army, he spent a year straight away from home and couldn’t even make a phone call.
Dad doesn’t always agree with my decisions, but he never judges them or me. He supports me 100%, reminding me that I will never be a disappointment to him. He stands by me no matter what. He’ll always love me.
Dad taught me to drive, mow the lawn, paint, spackle, dig a basement, buy a car, water ski, play ball, pitch a tent, plant a garden, and ride a bike. He drove me home from Colorado, walked me down the aisle and provided endless hugs through my divorce. He rejoiced with me when I found true love, passion and purpose. For all this and more he supports me in joy, celebration and sorrow. No matter what the goal, dream or challenge I’m facing, it is his voice that I hear saying, “You can do this. I believe in you.”
To all the great dad’s out there including mine, happy Father’s Day.