I can’t believe it’s been 12 years since my dad passed away. It was the day before Easter. I feel like a horrible person for hating the holiday, but I still do. I should love all the pastels and sweet bunnies and chicks overloading the shelves, but I don’t. And I’ve finally accepted that about myself and realized that it’s okay. While I loathe looking at Easter decor, I do love this time of year because it makes me remember my dad and everything I loved about him. Here are the 12 things my dad taught me:
- Love what you do and the rest will fall into place. My dad was not a conventional dad. He created one of the country’s first sporting clay shooting ranges. He made a career out of something he loved to do, hunt. He did what he loved, and I want to do the same. I love this quote because it reminds me of him: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman.
- If a man really loves you, he’ll cook you breakfast. Oh how I miss Saturday morning breakfasts with my dad! He’d wake up at 5:00 am to be the first in line at Shipley’s so we would have fresh, hot donuts. Then he’d cook eggs and bacon (I was a total chunk), and we’d have the most wonderful mornings just hanging out. The menu has changed a bit, but I found another man who cooks the most delicious Saturday morning breakfasts. Lucky girl!
- If you work hard, you can play hard. Both of my parents worked hard, so a strong work ethic was ingrained in me at a young age. I spent every other weekend at Champion Lake Gun Club trying to earn some extra cash for keeping score or pulling (is that a word?). And when my dad wasn’t at work, he was having fun. We’d go shopping, try out new restaurants, go to the park, fly kites, build trains. I might have been a little spoiled, which probably led to my fine taste, but I’m not afraid to work for what I want. Last year I had three jobs at the same time to support my lifestyle. Why pay $60 for a gross massage at Massage Envy when you could pay $110 and have the most fabulous day ever at The Houstonian? That’s how I think, and I know I’m going to have to work hard to pay for it.
- Take care of yourself. This one I learned by example. By a bad example. And I am so thankful for it. Our bodies are not meant to be beaten up time and time again. If you don’t take care of your heart, it will stop beating. I learned at a very young age that I need to take care of myself.
- If you love someone, tell them. There were so many I love yous and hugs growing up in my house I thought we’d wear them out. You don’t. Telling someone you love them is uplifting, and I try to say it as much as possible to the ones I really care about. They might not be here very long for you to tell them.
- Your dog will be your best friend. We grew up with hunting dogs. Mac was my dad’s black lab that was around for most of my life. There were dogs before Mac, but I think he was my dad’s favorite. At one point, I thought he might love Mac more than my sister and I. When I went to CAP to adopt Mia, my mom said, “No!” because honestly, I wasn’t in a stable place in my life, and I can’t blame her for thinking that. But Mia really did change my life for the better. We’ve driven to Savannah, Georgia together, walked Forsyth Park and all around downtown, driven back to Texas, and we’ve had a ball here too. Her love is amazing, and she’s my best friend. Note: Mac died about two months after my dad. Now that’s loyalty.
- Try to make new friends everywhere you go. My dad could make a new friend standing in line anywhere. And he did. It took me awhile to break out of my shell and do the same, but it’s so awesome when you do! Everyone has a story, and I loved talking to people and hearing about their lives.
- Pray. My dad didn’t go to church (unless it was a big event), but he did carry a tiny Bible that he’d pull out in the car every morning. He’d turn off the music, and he’d say his prayers. It was usually in line at the bank or at a stop light. He showed me it doesn’t matter where you pray as long as you do it!
- A home-cooked meal is the way to a person’s heart. Oh my goodness we ate good! My dad made homemade bread, roasts, fried chicken, bbq chicken, steak, potatoes, you name it. Even though I love trying new restaurants, eating at home is my favorite. It’s a great way to show someone you really love them by taking the time to cook them a good meal.
- Know your strengths, and ask for help when you need it. My dad was a talker. He could talk you into anything. He knew he was good at it too. He also knew writing and spelling was not his strength, and he’d often call my mom just to ask how to spell a word. He would have loved google! But maybe not, because he probably just used that as an excuse to call her. The point is, I’ve never been shy about asking for help when I don’t know the answer. I hope I can instill that in my students as well. We should never stop learning or trying to be better.
- “Stairway to Heaven” is the greatest song of all time. He’d play this song all the time. Sometimes we’d ask to play our music, and he’d say, “just one more song.” Eventually we learned he would play the longest song ever for the last song. It’s funny how I won’t hear it for months, and then I’ll hear three times in one day on special days like the anniversary of his death, or his birthday, or Valentine’s Day. Every time I hear it, I turn up the volume and think of my dad.
- If someone lives in your heart, you never have to say good-bye.