Little Lessons from Dad

Have you ever sat down and tried to make a list of all the things you’ve learned from your parents? Aside from the *important* things, what are those little lessons that we learn by example? The (sometimes) inconsequential things that we remember a parent for?
I tried to make a list, without being too sappy:
  • Convince your daughter to have the expensive wedding. Worry later how you’ll pay for it.
  • A good story deserves to be retold.
  • A father is his daughter’s fiercest protector. While the daughter may not appreciate all that yelling and screaming on her behalf (especially if she’s a teenager) she should allow it to happen and be glad for his protection, because one day he won’t be there to do it.
  • Do something with all those National Geographic magazines you’ve been saving in the garage, before you die, so that your kids won’t have to feel bad about throwing them away.
  • Pending loss and grief give rise to new friendships and make clear those that should give way.
  • Stamp your feet when you’re angry. Your kids will remember you for it and laugh.
  • Let people take care of you when you need caring for. It helps them, even if it doesn’t make you feel any better.
  • Mispronounce words, often.
  • Cooking sun-dried tomatoes, Jamaican beef patties, or hearts of palm will cause raised eyebrows at the dinner table. Getting angry about it will only make your kids laugh more. (When you’re not looking, of course!)

  • Believe in life, always.

Because I needed to hear it today, the second anniversary of my dad’s passing, NPR’s All Things Considered aired a wonderful audio segment about a father and daughter called A Father’s Last Days. It was a sweet and sad reminder of the final months of my dad’s life and made me wish that I’d had the strength, humor, and foresight that Adrian had when helping her dad face the end of his life. Worth a listen, but have a tissue handy.

19 thoughts on “Little Lessons from Dad”

  1. Susan and Lene: Thank you.

    I didn’t intend for this to come off as a sad sort of post, cause really it’s not, instead was hoping someone might want to remember funny things along with me.


  2. I have a lot of fond memories of my Dad. Funny seems to fit in a lot. I miss him everyday and he’s been gone over 11 years now.

  3. Was that NPR piece just for you?! It came on while I was cutting up a squash and I almost cut myself because I was getting all misty-eyed. It sounds like your dad was quite a guy; wise, caring and a forward-thinking computer pioneer to boot!

  4. Laura,

    Thinking of you and your Dad. I listened at work this morning and had to close my office door and open a box of Kleenex…how bittersweet. Thanks.

  5. I’m sorry Laura – I didn’t know your Dad wasn’t around anymore. It’s great you have such fond memories of him.
    P.S. I tried posting a comment last night and blogger was scrogged as you know. WordPress is nice. . .

  6. Laura,

    Many of those things ring true for lots of us I’m sure. One that really stood out is “Mispronounce words, often.” That reminds me so much of my dad. One of my favorite stories of his mispronunciations is how he calls his friend Earl “ERR-rull”, but he calls his old internet service Erol’s “Earls”. I say to him, “Just swap them and you’ll be fine.”

  7. Thanks for this post– I just love that picture!

    Funny you should post this, because I have my dad on my mind this morning. Last night I finally found one of only two books ever written about his mother’s home town, destroyed by a flood in 1929. I bought Dad the other book (actually just a 30-page pamphlet) years ago.

    But last night I found THE book, written by a woman who actually lived there. It’s a very rare book and I was delighted to find it for “only” $180. I’ve never in my life paid that much for a book, but getting our hands on a copy of it has been sort of the Holy Grail for our family.

    So yeah, I’m pretty excited to be able to give my father this gift.

    Oh yes– Lessons from Dad! My father started running in 1970 and has been a runner all his life. His example stuck, and he’s a big part of why I’m fit and healthy today!

  8. Thanks for the reminder to cherish a dad while he still lives. Just yesterday, I got frustrated since my dad posted a comment on my blog that had to do with correcting a spelling error. OK–I take back that frustration, and with your reminder, I cherish him while he is here.

  9. Laura-lie,
    I love coming to your blog to check out what you are doing. I really enjoy the things that you write about Dad on occasion. I get all choked up reading them. Go on ! Make me all weepy ! We all really miss him. Its amazing how fast two years have gone.

    I guess you could add one more thing that parents (in this case Dads) teach you. He taught me that daughters can get away with a lot more than sons. I always managed to avoid stepping on the land mines that would aggravate Dad. Part of being the oldest, I guess. Brian would step on them just being his dopey self. You know Brazil. What a buzzard head. And you. Well. I would sit in amazement of what you could say and get away with it. The lesson here is. Daddy’s little girl can do no wrong in the eyes of her father. So true. So right. Dads fall in love all over again when that little girl is born. Its’ great. Its’ a love that runs deep. Real deep. So deep it hurts when you think about it.

    Keep that feeling in mind when you think of him. Because it is him……

  10. I don’t care how old you are, you are always “Daddy’s Little Girl” I didn’t know my father much when I was little, but have fond memories and now that I am older I really am thankful for him.

    I can tell from your posts that you miss your father Laura, and you have made me realize how lucky I am to still have mine – even if he is a pia sometimes 🙂

    Hugs to you on this anniversary. I am certain that he is still looking out for you, ’cause I am one of those believers in that hocus pocus stuff – Don’t buy Sylvia Browne for one second though :))))))

  11. Michelle: You’re back!!!

    Thanks for the hugs. I can’t say that I miss my dad day to day, but I miss him being there, if that makes any sense.

    Dave: It’s nice that the funny things stick with you. It’s easier to remember those things as time passes, I think.

    Samtzmom: Thanks. I’m sure he is, although he always threatened to haunt us.

    Mojoman: I heard it on the drive home from work in the rain – it was a really nice piece.

    Mary: There was something about the quality of the man’s voice that reminded me so much of my dad when he was sick. Hard to listen to, but uplifting, I think.

    Naturewoman: Thanks. Yes, keep pushing me to move.

    Patrick: Thanks for sharing the funny story! There were certain words that my dad always said wrong – and he knew it was wrong – but I couldn’t think of any examples. There were also the occasional Pennysylvania Dutch words he used which sounded odd.

    Bunnygirl: That sounds like quite a find! Hope your dad likes it.

    Madcap: Hmmmm… not sure what to say.

    kgmom: Maybe you can think of that as *protecting my daughter* from being embarrassed? I think it’s nice that he’s interested enough to read and read closely enough to notice a typo!

    Sandy: Thanks – I tried to have fun writing it.

    Susan: Thanks – A rare good hair day – I really like this picture of us. Most of the wedding pics are so stiff and posed – this one is so natural.

    Kevin: This wasn’t meant to be weepy! I rewrote it about a dozen times so that it wouldn’t be!

    I just tried always to be honest with him, Kev. I really don’t think I was all that spoiled, do you? 😉

    Besides, I had mommy’s looks on my side: when he looked at you and Brazil he saw himself. That’s the way that it is with sons. So there, big brother.

    Someday, I want to talk more about it with you, but not here, okay?

    When are you gonna start that chicken blog?

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