Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

It’s Father’s Day and today’s edition of “Life in the Balcony” is, of course, a tribute to my father.

My first thought was to list all of the things that I learned from Dad, but I didn’t want to limit myself, so here’s a free-form list of things I learned, remember or appreciate about my dad.

*I learned that real men and fathers can build or fix anything. I don’t ever remember having a serviceman in the house. Daddy changed his own oil, closed in the screen porch on one house and built a screen porch on another. He also grew his own beansprouts on top of the refrigerator for a time but I don’t know if that actually goes onto the list of what real men do… (He also made me taste his liverwurst sandwich once – that was gross.)

*Daddy taught me that there’s never too much music in the house. There was always music – either we were listening to it or playing it. This is something for which I will always be grateful. There was also never too much music in the car – especially when we were making the trek from Atlanta to Clarkesville, VA to see my grandparents. There was a regular song list that we’d go through – but not, of course on an iPod or even a tape player. We’d sing and sing in the car. Probably until the kids got carsick or fell asleep.

*Daddy taught me that time spent together is way more important than material things.

*Daddy got really mad at me when I was about 10 because I laughed when he told me I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I hadn't ever heard that phrase before, and it sounded funny to me so I laughed. He was already frustrated with me because I was running around like… well, you probably know. I guess the laughing sent him over the edge. But every time I hear that phrase I think of Daddy and laugh.

*There were a couple of things Dad said to me over the years that have always stuck with me (besides the chicken thing…). The summer I turned 16 I was madly in love with an older guy. I would sit around and wait to see if he called, and would be really bummed out if he didn't. One night, Daddy told me that he thought I might get hurt more than some because I didn't have a lot of filters – I didn’t put up walls around my feelings. But he also told me that he didn't want me to change because he believed that while I might feel hurt more strongly, I would also feel love and enjoyment more fully.

*Daddy taught me that church and worship are important parts of life. He didn't say this though – he lived it. He has always been a committed, vibrant, involved member of whatever church he attends. And I've never, ever gotten the impression that any of the things he volunteers to do are a burden. It’s just how he gives back to his worship community. I’m as involved at my church as I am because I learned that lesson from him.

* Daddy told me once, when I asked him if he was proud of me, that it was more important that I be proud of myself. I didn't really understand it at the time, but it’s true.  Dad taught us all to have high expectations of ourselves, and if I’m not going to be proud of myself unless I've met those expectations. Being proud of myself means that I worked hard and did the right thing.

*Dad told me numerous times not to “try,” but to just “do it.” Oftentimes this was said in exasperation, because I was an exasperating child most of the time. In these instances it was generally in response to my promising to “try” to get better grades or something that I obviously had control over. Daddy wasn't going to give me an out when he knew I was capable. I use this on my kids now, so it was a good parenting lesson as well.

*He also taught me that it takes much less time to do something right the first time.

*Daddy was right when he suggested that I shouldn't be changing my major from Music Education to English but he supported me anyway.

*The most important thing I know about my dad is that he loves me. I've never doubted this for one second in all of my 49 years.

One final note. Daddy is a loving, wonderful father and grandfather. I’m so blessed to have him and thankful for all of the lessons, memories and fun we’ve had over the years. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you!

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