10 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

My dad left us early and is spending his first Father’s Day in Heaven. I’ve done a lot of reflecting since his death. My dad would not have won any Father of the Year awards, but I loved him and he taught me some very valuable life lessons.

Rise Early. Every day up before the sun came up, a trait I’ve inherited. He would have his coffee and work on either a crossword puzzle or a sudoku. By the time the sun would be up, he was ready to start his day. There was always things to do and he didn’t want to waste time.

Do Your Best. He always wanted us to do our best. He didn’t care what we did as long as we did our best. Even as a young child, I always tried hard. Sometimes I felt like it wasn’t good enough and I would try even harder. Doing your personal best made him proud.

Be Friendly. He enjoyed spending time with his friends. He looked forward to his morning coffee group. He was so dedicated to the group that when he spent a few weeks in the nursing home, one of his friends picked him up to take him to coffee. After he passed away, I found a gift card and sent it to the group so they could all have coffee on him. I’m sure they enjoyed that morning…sharing stories about him.

Live Within Your Means. You don’t have to be rich to have a rich life. He invested wisely and we lived frugally. I tend to be frugal…heck, it’s in my jeans! However, my husband insists the air conditioner goes on before July 1st.

Be There. My dad traveled for his work when I was little. But, after my parents divorced (I was 21), he was asking why. I let him know that he wasn’t really around and it was tough, at times. We weren’t extremely close. But, I told him that he can have a close relationship with his grandchildren. I didn’t have kids at that time, but WOW, what a grandfather he was. He had them over for sleepovers, took them to the pumpkin patch, took them fishing, picked kids up from school, traveled all over the US to watch his grandkids participate in sports. He decided he was going to ‘be there’…and he was. And through all the things he chose to do with us, we became closer. Being there and being present is important.

Know Your Neighbors. We lived in the same house my entire childhood. We knew are neighbors and they were our best friends. The parents were friends and the kids were friends. I remember one Thanksgiving we spent it with our neighbors instead of family. It was a great day and something I will always remember.

Change is Good. Change is hard…it’s hard for everyone. I remember one day he decided he was going to quit smoking. He quit…overnight…and never had another cigarette. His will power was amazing. I’m sure it was harder for him than he ever let on. His commitment to change impressed me and I hope to have his willpower when I need to makes changes.

Hard Work. My dad was such a hard worker. He worked a lot. I remember the first time he retired. He was 50. He had rental properties that he thought would keep him busy in his retirement, but three months later, he completed the tasks and found another job. Dad always had projects to do. And, he always worked hard. My motto has been “Work hard…and have fun!” Both are important.

Take Vacations. We didn’t take a lot of lavish vacations, but we always went somewhere. Many times it was just to Worlds of Fun, but we had a blast! Some of our bigger vacations were with our friends…our neighbors. This was years ago…years before cell phones, so we all had a CB radio to talk to each other. What fun we had!

Laughter is Good Medicine. As a child, there were times it seemed like my dad never wanted to have fun. Of course, he was the parent and had to make the rules. But, my dad liked to laugh. He liked to be with other people and make them laugh. He was ornery. I think he did his best to try to make others laugh.

I can’t believe how much I think about my dad now that he is gone. Maybe that’s normal, maybe it’s not. So many things remind me of him. I’ll never forget sitting around our dining room table talking to the pastor before his funeral. The pastor asked “What do you think he is doing right now?” My youngest niece blurts out “Having a beer with Jesus.” So, Happy Father’s Day dad. I hope you are enjoying your first Father’s Day in Heaven…and I hope you are having a beer with Jesus! Love you!

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