"30 Memories of Daddy"

My Dad would have turned 55 last Monday if he were still living.  It’s amazing how much peace and calm you can feel when you know someone has lived an incredible, worth-while life and that they are continuing to do great things in the next chapter of existence.

7 years ago my sisters and I collaborated on a birthday present for Dad called, 30 Memories of Daddy.  Even with his illness he worked hard interviewing, scanning pictures and slowly typing up histories of his parents.  The Mom Book and The Dad Book were the fruits of those labors, so we decided he needed his own book.  Each of us contributed 10 memories or lessons we learned from Dad.  Here are mine…

Dear Daddy,
Happy 48thBirthday! Thank you for spending it in my boring apartment, so I could enjoy your sweet company on your special day. I’m honored! 🙂
Since this will be the first year your 3 girls are out of the house, I thought I’d share with you some lessons you’re taught me through the years and reflect on some especially wonderful moments. You’ve definitely been one of the key people in helping me grow my roots and wings. I wanted to make sure you knew…
  1. Two of the greatest lessons you’ve taught me were when I was only 5 years old, but I still use them daily. One is that we don’t have to correct others when we notice they’ve done something wrong. If you hadn’t taught me this, I probably wouldn’t have had many friends. Instead, you encouraged a sensitive, encouraging, humble attitude towards learning. Your influence has made me a better teacher.
  2. I also remember you telling me that teachers make mistakes and that there would even be times I would be smarter than the teacher. This idea pushed back the limits that educators, friends, or even I had previously set for myself. I felt empowered. Thank you for erasing those boundaries and always sitting in the front row of my education, emotional growth, and life’s performances.
  3. One of the favorite nights of my life will always be the Civil War Ball. I didn’t have the fanciest dress and I didn’t know all the traditions or historical customs the other girls did, but I felt like the luckiest one there. You helped me have fun. Your lighthearted attitude, the way you spun me as fast as you could around and through the other dancers, it all helped me feel confident and classy. Everything about that night was magical and comfortable at the same time. I guess that’s how I’d define a true, loving father-daughter relationship: magical and comfortable at the same time. Safe but still rushing- like being thrown into the air so high but always having the safety of strong arms to land in and hold you. Thank you for that night and for twirling me every day of my life.
  4. I wish that I could take credit for being a high achiever. But now that I’ve been on my own, I know that I don’t naturally accomplish a lot without proper motivation (i.e. the grade, award, public recognition, a scoop of Baskin Robbin’s ice cream…) Thanks for helping me set high goals, not because I needed to compete with others, but because I was capable of reaching that high. You have always been a great example of living life to its fullest.
  5. “Books are our friends.” If I ever do get published, become famous and have a blog people read regularly, I know this quote from you will be on my homepage. From how to physically treat them to how to absorb their knowledge, you have been an example of respecting and seeking out truth. Thank you for this priceless gift.
  6. You helped me find my femininity without losing a sense of adventure and play. Thank you for helping me see how these two sides intertwine. From the Roll-up game to wearing appropriate clothes to church, you showed that there is a time and a place for everything and helped me see the difference.
  7. Another moment I’ll eternally be grateful that you were there beside me was when I missed my flight to SVU. I was so scared. Life was ready to keep moving, but I wasn’t. Thank you for helping me “stick with the plan” that eventually led me to my wonderful, sweet husband. For that act alone, I owe you all my happiness.
  8. It may sound funny, but thank you for respecting animals and teaching me to do the same. Whenever I saw people squishing ants or torturing worms, I knew you wouldn’t agree with their actions because you saw all of God’s creations as having value (even the mosquitoes in Bolivia.) It’s funny, but that little truth affected my decisions of whom I dated. If a guy thought messing with animals was funny, he was not for me, because I knew you wouldn’t do that.
  9. Without you I might never have listened to Queen, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Kansas, Boston, John Taylor, or Cat Stevens. I probably would not appreciate Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Without you I may have gone my entire life without reading The Hobbit or Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now? If you hadn’t been my Dad, I might never have learned about Mole Day. Thank you for opening my eyes to so much good stuff.
  10. I think the most important lesson you’ve taught me is to never make the same mistake twice. Learn from it. Change. And keep trying. I remember the first school report I lost to the abyss of accidentally deleted computer files. I remember sitting on the edge of your bed in tears, looking at the blank computer screen as you explained why I needed to save more often. You said the report would be easier to write the second time (which it was) and that I hopefully wouldn’t let it happen again (I haven’t.)
It was in that same spot on the edge of the bed that we watched each other play Tetris, I saw you studying for school and when you once spoke to me about making decisions. That year Halloween fell on Sunday. You said you had taught me right from wrong and had let out a little bit of rope that couldn’t be taken back. Even though I didn’t like it, it was my turn to decide how to spend the holiday. I knew you respected me because you let me make my own decision.
Many times since then I’ve figuratively sat on the bed of indecision, weighing the arguments of both sides, trying to choose. Thank you for teaching me all you could and helping me learn how to teach myself. Thanks to you, I’m never perched too long. I’ve been given the tools I need for this life. You’ve taught me, encouraged me, strengthened me and I know that no matter what, you’ll always walk beside me.
I love you forever.
Happy, Happy Birthday!

Love, #1
(We enjoyed watching Star Trek: The Next Generation together, so that’s where the #1 reference comes from.)
Oh, Daddy, how you are missed!  But you are also so sweetly remembered.  I could easily write another 10 memories right now, and maybe sometime soon I will so I can always remember who I come from and my children can know you too.  Keep on having adventures and someday we will join you and make more memories together.

One thought on “"30 Memories of Daddy"

  1. I really loved reading your insights about what your Father had taught you. I didn't have a dad growing up. (Well, I did for the first 8 years–until my parents divorced, but the abuse injured me and impacted my life negatively.)
    What a blessing to have a loving, support, gentle teaching father.

    I had some wonderful reminders for myself. And particularly wish I had learned #1 early on. I'm going to teach my children that more diligently. It took me far too long to learn. 🙁

    I also like the insight of number 2, because it's true. I have felt a lot of disappointment in my life, because I didn't understand that sooner!! Sometimes our role models are going to make mistakes, or not know something you think they ought to. We have to make allowances for those things, and not let it break us. — I guess better said, sometimes we have unrealistic expectations of others, and when they fall short or disappoint us, it can cause a lot of self doubt. Healthy understanding and limitations of others, will help us to feel healthy in our responses when we feel let down or disappointed. Boy, I wish I'd learned that sooner! (Thanks for putting that initial idea in this matter.)

    Keep up the interesting and insightful writing.

    P.S. My Mom died 9 years ago on her 66th birthday. She was a woman of wisdom and insights. It's hard to lose people like that. I'm sorry for your loss, and hope you have found a great deal of comfort.

    I know they are happy when we remember them. 🙂

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