My dad’s been gone 34 years. I’ve lived my adult life without him. Yet his words and lessons are relevant and resound in my life every day.
Love your spouse and make your family a priority. He loved my mom and everyone knew it. They hugged, they smooched, they held hands when they walked. We did things together as a family whether we wanted to (when we were young kids, we did) or not (when we were teenagers, not so much). Whether it was a holiday, a family get together, or a vacation, I have great family memories.
When you agree to do work for someone, work hard, be loyal and do your best. Whether we were mowing lawns, working at a fundraising concession stand, or starting our first ‘real’ job, Dad encouraged us and cheered us on to be better employees. He and my mom set the example through both paid jobs and volunteer work. Oh, and have fun while you’re at it.
Learn about other people, places, and things. I don’t know if my dad would have been a world traveler if he had the means, but he was worldly. Through a program at MSU we served as a host family to foreign students, and through my dad’s interest in stamps and tobacco tins, he had lasting friendships with people from Thailand, Australia, and Iran. Dad was a member of the Lion’s Club and when my brother lived in Chile, my dad visited a chapter of the Lion’s Club there and shared his experiences with his Lion’s Club chapter here.
Be a part of inclusive groups, not exclusive groups. Dad loved being a part of the fun and including everyone. Golfing, singing, celebrating holidays and festivals. Participate and bring a friend. The more the merrier.
Make the most of potlucks. Wow! Did Dad like a good potluck. And a bad potluck, and a salad bar and a smorgasbord. Much like life experiences, he was willing to try anything and he didn’t run into too many foods he didn’t like. He was known for saying, “My favorite kind of cake is pie” and “anything without onions would be better with them.” He could fit more on his plate at a Wednesday night church potluck than anyone else. Oh, how I wish I had a picture for this paragraph. Alas, I do not.
Be kind, and help others whenever you can. As mentioned earlier, Dad did good works through church and community organizations. But he embodied kindness through his everyday actions… snow-blowing a path through the snowy yard for our dog, providing a safe place to someone in need, and helping neighbors, friends, and strangers.
I’ve missed you, Dad, and often think what might have been had you been here with us all these years, but then I realize, you really always have been.