Things I learned from my father

My father was my first teacher in life and the lessons I learned from him have been a model for my life. My father died two years ago on his birthday, June 9th. In honor of his memory, I want to share these lessons here.


1. Do your best.

My father taught me that if I put my mind to something, I can do it. He patiently explained math problems until I got them. He taught me how to memorize spelling words. He showed me how to learn languages. Dad learned French in six months from audio cassettes and was able to communicate with the exchange student who stayed with us. He taught me that an intense desire to understand is the basis for learning. The only times I got in trouble about my school work was when he suspected (usually rightly) that I’d slacked.

2. Live with honor.

My father stood up for what he believed in, even if he it meant he was standing alone. I believe he got kicked out of several churches that way.

3. Have compassion.

My father was a giver. He gave his time as a volunteer. He rang bells for the Salvation Army in winter and he invariably came home without his hat or gloves, having given them away to someone colder than he was. Mom used to complain about how hard it is to replace hats and gloves towards the end of winter. My father sincerely cared about other people and put them before himself. From him I learned that all people are important, no matter what their race, religion, or situation in life.

4. Live in love.

My father rarely said, “I love you.” He showed his love in doing kind things for people – giving gifts, carrying heavy stuff, or just being there. He woke my mom up at midnight on her birthday to take her out for ice cream when they were newlyweds. My parents always said “More more” at the end of conversations. It took my whole life to figure out what it meant.

5. Tell the truth.

My father was a firm believer in truth. I learned from him that life is easier when you tell the truth. And along with truth comes apology. My father taught me to apologize when I’m wrong or have made a mistake. The relief that came with truth and apology is something I will never forget.

6. It’s never too hot for a hug.

Even on the hottest and stickiest days, there were always hugs.

7. Say please and thank you.

My father taught me the value of manners. Saying please when I want something and thank you after I get something is basic. He taught me to consider other people’s feelings when I speak.

8. Don’t be a bully.

Bullies are everywhere and always have been. When I was in the third grade, I had a teacher, Mrs. E, who was a bit of a bully – the only teacher who ever hit us. I came home crying one day because she wrongly accused me of adding my name to a sign-up list. My father stormed into school armed with all my notebooks and proceeded to 1) prove that I had done no such thing (handwriting, see) and 2) have a talk with the teacher about the way she terrorizes students without cause. I learned that it is important to stand up for myself and that there are peaceful ways of resolving conflict.

9. Homemade pizza is best.

My father had the best pizza recipe. On pizza making days, the kitchen was covered in flour and pizza dough. He must have made eight at a time. Maybe more. He let me help sometimes and from him I learned to cook.

10. You can do it.

My father taught me how to fix the plumbing. He taught me how to hammer a nail. He taught me how to put together shelves without the instructions. (^^) He was ahead of his time in his belief that girls can do the same things that guys can. I learned never to say “I can’t.”

I’d like to say thank you to my dad and happy birthday.

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  • Suzanne  On June 10, 2012 at 10:47 am

    What a beautiful post about your father. Thank you for sharing what you learned from your father with us.

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