He was a very smart and talented engineer, but not great with people skills. He had low self-esteem. He enjoyed his beer.
For years after he died I could only see the problems.
Ironically it took my Mother’s death last year for me to see the gifts he gave to me. He died over 15 years ago with complications from his heavy smoking and lung cancer.
I now think of him as an adventurous young man with a desire to travel, working on a coffee plantation in South America. He was bright and talented but early in life as the youngest of nine; he stopped valuing and believing in himself. I don’t know why and I never will.
So what are the lessons I learned from my Dad.
Lesson 1: The Value of Appreciation
During a bad time in high school when my spirits were particularly low, my father suggested that each night before I go to bed that I write down ten things I had to be thankful for. Not a popular idea back then. No idea where he came up with the value of appreciation, but this was long before it was even written about or touted as a quick fix to achieve happiness.
Lesson 2: Know What You Do Well
We shared a love of math. By second grade I knew my multiplication tables at least through the nine’s. He would constantly teach me tricks with numbers and easy ways to solve problems. This was one subject we could talk about. That’s probably why I majored in math.
Lesson 3: Make A Difference
To whom much is given much is expected. Not sure where he came up with this phrase. But I knew from an early age that we were expected to give back, to make a difference. This lesson has served me well.
Lesson 4: Laugh Often
I loved his laughter and wish that in his life had laughed more. Share laughter with a friend. One of my favorite memories is my Father laughing so hard with my Uncle Gil that tears ran down their eyes. Don’t even remember what they laughed about but I can still see their faces and hear their laughter even though I was just in middle school.
Lesson 5: Value Yourself
This gift comes from not doing what he did, but doing the opposite. Somehow, even at a very young age, I could tell he was a very hard worker, but did not value himself. I remember him refusing a raise because he did not feel he deserved it. How would I even have known that? Even as a child I was very observant and a very good listener.
Your Turn: What are the Lessons – The Gifts You Received From Your Dad?
What are the gifts you received from your Dad both positive and negative? If your Dad is alive take the time to talk with him, to reflect and to thank him. If not, You might journal about him or talk with you relatives or siblings about your Father. They may see you Dad very differently than you do.
My favorite picture of my Dad is one when he is in his twenties, even before I was born, quite dapper with the world at his feet. I think of him as the young man with an adventurous spirit off to make his mark on the world, living on a coffee plantation in South America. That’s how I see him in my mind and I wish him well.