For My Dad

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads this weekend.  I’d also like to wish those of you who have (or have had) a great dad a Happy Father’s Day.  If you read my Mother’s Day post, you may have guessed that my mom must have married a neat guy.  You’d be right!

My dad won the “coolest dad around” award on many occasions.  He’s one of those rare people who actually encompasses the many qualities we’d all like to have:  smart, funny, loyal, honest, successful, committed, interesting, empathic, and cool to boot.  How many people do you know who are all of these things?  Not many, right?

Here are some of the many things I’ve learned from my dad:

1)  Read a lot. When I was a tiny little girl, my dad started taking me to the library on Saturdays.  We went for pancakes at the Eat More Diner in Florence, SC beforehand and then visited the old trains afterwards.  When I got older, we began going to the B. Dalton book store at the Magnolia Mall.  Many times, I would stack books as high as I could hold them with the intention of narrowing down the choices and my dad would simply take the entire stack to the counter.  I was always surprised at how many books he’d buy me, but I read THEM ALL.  By the time I graduated from high school, I had such an impressive collection that several neighbors came to my house routinely to borrow my books.  In other words, my room became the neighborhood library.

I think the idea was along the lines of positive conditioning:  associating the fun we had with books.  It worked-I am a voracious reader.  However, the positive association with books probably had more to do with my dad himself than pancakes.  The time he spent with me on Saturday mornings made me feel special, and I love to read to this day because of that.

2)  Ice cream tastes better in the Jeep.

My dad has always had the cool cars.  He is a conosseuir of sorts when it comes to jeeps, and we named our cars growing up.  His first jeep was “Rusty.” Many a Friday night were spent eating ice cream cones from The Sundae House in the front seat of “Rusty.” When the “frozen yogurt era” rolled around, we got a bit more savvy and went to TCBY instead.  To this day, I remember getting “white chocolate mousse with cookie dough” topping and riding in the summer breeze at night.

There is just nothing like it.

3)  Win first.  Take names quietly later.

I’ve been put in uncomfortable or unfair situations several times in my life and thanks to my dad, I didn’t self destruct.  It can be hard to focus on the overall goal when feeling perpetually pissed off, but it is self destructive to speak prematurely.  In fact, it’s best to win first, take names quietly later, and always be nice anyway.   Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.

I can’t say I have mastered this one, but I am working on it.

4)  Cool cars can add some real excitement to your life.

Do you remember the Dukes of Hazzard? Of course you do.  How could you ever forget Bo, Luke, and Daisy Duke?  Do you remember General Lee? The car that had no windows and could jump over just about anything…….

My dad picked me up from elementary school in General Lee while all of the kids stood watching from the carpool line. I watched as a shiny, orange vehicle approached the school and there it was….General Lee in all it’s glory. This was a big surprise, and I proudly sat on top of the front console for the ride home. Understand how very cool this was at the time-kind of like being picked up by Miley Cyrus from school in front of the other kids.   For the rest of my life, I will never forget being picked up from school by my dad in General Lee.

5)  Use a nice camera.

Though he wouldn’t admit it, my dad has been a professional photographer for at least 25 years now.  We have pictures all over my parents’ home of my sister and I growing up, so many that my dad once put them into massive collages.

I didn’t realize until this year that my dad had taken photos of us both doing something well, having fun, or having some kind of success with the intention of building our self esteem.  His photography is a real gift, and he recently began sharing his tips with me.  Now that I have a real camera, I have to admit that he really got it right with photography.

6).  Yellow post it notes are better than instant text.

My dad wrote special notes to my  mom, sister and I on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  When I went downstairs for breakfast, that post it note stuck to my place at the table with a special note on it just for me.  He always mentioned something positive that I had done or said that week and told me that he loved me.  That note was always there, without fail.

What a great bookend to start a day.  I saved many of them in a big glass poster frame and to this day, those notes are special reminders of what a great dad I have.

7)  Nonverbals can be pretty powerful. My dad is a master of this practice and has the ability to speak volumes with his eyes.  There was a specific “look” I knew to watch for growing up and if that happened, I stopped what I was doing pronto.

I don’t think I inherited this particular ability, but I’ve been told countless time that I have “very strong nonverbals.”  I’m certain that I got this from my dad and know that sometimes, there is more power in what’s not said.

My dad is famous for one liners. He has an uncanny ability to say the perfect thing at just the right moment in just a few words.  When this happens, you want to be there because it is absolutely hilarious.  There have been countless times that this has happened, so many that I can’t even think of them all.  When that moment arrives, we laugh about it for years.

8)  You can earn what you want in life.

When I was 5 years old, I discovered the violin.  After seeing some children playing violins at a summer camp, I went home and told my parents that I wanted to get a violin.  They said that I could under one condition:  I had to earn $10.

As a 5 year old in 1981, I set out to earn my goal of $10 by picking up trash at my dad’s office on Saturday mornings.  I think a few people made some “donations” as well.  Though it felt like a year at the time, I’m sure it was probably a few weeks before I hit my goal and got that violin.  The experience made a real impression, and I believe that lesson laid the framework for my deep seated belief that I can earn what I want in my life.

By the way, I played the violin until I was 18 years old.

9)  Don’t worry if you’re not “in style.” If you stick with it, your style will eventually come back “in.”

How right he was!  My dad liked distressed jeans jeans and t-shirts long before our generation caught on, and he still does. Nowadays, many of us strut around in high end, expensive “distressed” jeans as if they’re the best thing since sliced bread.  We are about 20 years late to catch on to his excellent taste.

10)  Here was an often heard mantra at our house growing up:

“Who loves you?”

“Daddy!!!!”

“What is daddy?”

“A contractooooorrrr!”

My sister and I just loved this one.  Now that I’m a mom, we recreated our own version.  Here is how that one goes:

“Who loves you?”

“Mommmyyyyyyyeee!!!!”

“What is mommy?”

(confused look)

“Can you say ‘SY-KOLO-JIST?'”

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DADDY!  You are a fantastic dad and I love you!!