The women in my family love to talk, so the fathers in my life sometimes have a hard time getting a word in edgewise. I wouldn’t exactly describe them as men of few words; they just aren’t what you’d call chatty. As a result, I have learned more from their actions than their words. In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share a few of the lessons these four special men have taught me.
My grandfather always had a story to tell, an opinion to share or a song to sing. He was a man of many words, but the lessons I learned from him about hard work and success were learned by watching rather than listening. He could weave quite the tall tale, but he never boasted about his achievements. He was a doctor, cattle rancher, author, volunteer, musician, fisherman, traveler, and founder of a free medical clinic. His definition of success was serving others, and he served those in need until the end of his life. When I feel lost, I remember his drive and his dedication to others. It reminds me that I, too, can achieve whatever I set my mind to, as long as I work hard and give back.
My dad has shared some good words of wisdom over the years, but it’s his appreciation for the small things in life that have taught me the most. My dad has a breakfast burrito every morning- including when he was going through chemo last year! He prides himself on making the best fish tacos, and he gets really stoked about perfectly seared ahi tuna. He loves to ride his mountain bike and eat my mom’s beef stroganoff on his birthday. He always puts his chocolates in the freezer, and he gets weirdly excited about running errands. If the TV’s on, he’s either watching sports or late night comedy shows. My dad’s quirks and predictable habits might seem random or silly, but they’ve always made me feel like he’s someone I can count on. His excitement over small pleasures shows me that despite whatever craziness is happening in my life or the world around me, I can find comfort in the little things.
My father-in-law has an energy that puts people at ease and makes them feel at home. On a weekend afternoon, you’ll likely find him in the backyard or the kitchen, because he loves to barbeque and cook for family and friends. His table is always piled high for Sunday Night Dinner, and there’s always a bottle of red wine, or two, open when he’s home. Friends and family often stop by just to say hello, and he always makes them feel like it’s a good time for a visit, whether it really is or not. He reveals his thoughtful, easygoing nature through food and hospitality, which is something I aspire to. I hope that when I have my own home someday, people will want to congregate around my table like they do around his.
As a parent, my husband has taught me a lot about the power of yes. My son often wants to do seemingly weird things, and my husband’s response (more often than not) is yes. He is not a permissive parent, and he does set boundaries, but he also actively tries to create conditions for yes. Play race cars with no pants? Why not? Dip anything and everything in ketchup? Well, it is a tasty condiment. Drink bathwater? Kind of gross, but okay. Eat a little dirt and whack things along the trail with a stick? Interesting choices, little hiker. Watching them interact reminds me that positive responses and openness create space for curiosity, exploration, and independence. My husband is always true to himself, and in saying yes to the small things, he gives our son the freedom to be himself as well. I look forward to embracing the spirit of yes together as our son grows older.
Who are the special father figures in your life? Share a lesson learned, a special memory, or simply give a father in your life a shout-out in the comments below!