My dad lost his battle with colon cancer when I was 16 years old. He was just 49. In my 16 years with the most amazing man I have ever met I learned so much. Some of which were practical, some of which are parenting skills that I now get to use, and some things are purely just ways to enjoy life. I thought I would share some because while these things seem so simple I am so glad he taught them to me…whether he knew it or not.
Before I was allowed to get my drivers license I had to successfully change a tire by myself. Keep in mind this was before the days of cell phones, but this is still such an important thing to know. There are plenty of areas that are in the middle of nowhere with bad cell coverage. I will make Lily (my daughter) accomplish this same task before she can get her drivers license.
If I slammed my door I would lose the privilege of having a door. If I was mad and in my huff ran to my room and slammed my door my dad would then come, take it right off the hinges, and put it in the garage for a week. This was the kind of parent my dad was. Now as a parent myself I totally get it! The privacy of my room was a privilege. With no door I could get dressed in the bathroom, but I couldn’t talk on the phone in my room without the rest of the house hearing. Trust me, I learned that lesson real fast.
Being the cool parent really is awesome. When I would have friends over for sleepovers my dad would take us for Slurpees or Taco Bell or other unhealthy midnight treats. Everyone thought I had the coolest dad ever and I really did. Now as a parent I can understand how fun it was for my dad to be a cool parent and my friends loved to hang out at my house. I hope my daughter’s friends will think I’m cool and want to hang out at our house so I have the security of knowing where she is at all times 🙂
My father taught me compassion. I rarely saw him actually mad at someone. He always gave people the benefit of the doubt. One time in particular comes to mind. My father was a vice principal of a high school and in a classroom a student had lost it a little bit and was throwing desks so the teacher cleared the class and called the office. My dad entered the classroom the try to calm the student. I’m not entirely sure what all went down, but my dad was hit and ended up losing consciousness momentarily and went to the hospital for stitches. After that though he defended the student saying that it was a chemical imbalance and that the was actually out of his mind and didn’t know what he was doing. He felt bad for the student even though my dad was the one with stitches. The only thing about that whole situation I remember my dad being even remotely bummed about was that he got blood on his favorite tie (which was a charity Save The Children tie).
My father made sure I knew how to drive a stick shift. This seemed silly at the time because neither car my family owned was a stick, but I can’t tell you how many times this came in handy. Later in life a friend would have drinks and I would drive their car safely instead of them or my car would be in the shop and someone would lend me theirs. I am grateful for knowing how to drive a stick.
My dad’s cooking skills were limited, but one of his favorite things was repurposing the leftover spaghetti noodles from the night before for breakfast. Put some butter in a frying pan, add spaghetti and cook until some are slightly crispy. Certainly not the healthiest breakfast, but when I was little I LOVED the crispy noodles. The two other items he taught me how to cook was apple pancakes and Thelma eggs (eggs in a hole). I still have a scar on my right middle finger from learning how to make apple pancakes and I still have no idea why my dad called “eggs in a hole” Thelma eggs. As far as I know there was no Thelma that we knew. All 3 of these items bring a smile to my face though 🙂
I was taught to have a love of theater. Before my dad was a high school principal, he was a high school honors English and drama teacher. He took me to every play he possibly could. I went to the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival when I was in 4th grade and saw Taming of the Shrew with standing room only tickets! What 4th grader do you know that would STAND for an ENTIRE performance of Taming of the Shrew?!?! Me, I did and that is because I was so excited to see it since I had a love of the theater. My dad bought season tickets to the local musical theater company which meant 4 times a year we would have a father daughter date. We would go eat a “fancy” dinner and he would take me to the theater. Growing up I just thought this was fun, but as I got older I realized that it was also an education he was giving me.
I could go on for days. I wrote this in the hopes that one day when my daughter Lily is older she can go back and read this to get a glimpse of the amazing man her grandfather was and understand why her crazy mom insisted she learned how to drive a stick shift and change a tire.