- Be a good girl and don’t be obnoxious. Having five daughters to raise, Dad was a strict overseer. He knew he’d have to marry us all off someday, and did his best to ensure there were no “Shrews” to worry about. He was successful, and each of us is still married to the men we first married.
- Use good manners. Chew with your mouth closed, eat everything on your plate (because of the starving children in Africa), sit up straight at the table, don’t interrupt, speak clearly (I appreciate this more and more each passing year!), say “please” and “thank you,” hold the door for others, cover your mouth when you sneeze . . . important lessons still!
- Learn to drive defensively. This skill is necessary because every other driver on the road is an asshole. Dad’s words, not mine.
- Dry off with a facecloth first after you bathe, and use only one square of toilet paper after going #1. The facecloth rule made sense. Post-shower squeegeeing saved on towel laundering. It took me a long time to get over the guilt of grabbing a whole towel from the shower when I got to make the rules. The one toilet square was a rule we neither understood nor followed, and I don’t remember if there was a rule for #2. Can’t imagine what the toilet paper bill was each month, but I’m sure Dad did his best to prevent costly plumbing issues. Did I mention five daughters?
- Don’t lie. Although it helped to have something legitimate to tell the priest during confession, our parents always discovered the lie, and the consequences were then doubled: disappointment plus anger. Still, we took chances on “getting away with it.”
- There are consequences for your actions. It might be a stern word or look, or even a spanking, or no dessert, or no use of the family car, but it made an impression, and made us think twice (well, sometimes!) before doing something we knew might end poorly.
- Say your prayers. Dad and Mom never wavered a day on their faith, and daily prayers were as routine as hand washing. Every night I would fall asleep with the litany of rote prayers ending with “…and God bless Mommy and Daddy and Christine and Susie and Charlene and me and Carol and Nana and Bupa and Grandma and Grandpa and . . .” everyone I knew in my life.
- Be generous to others. To this day I do not know how many charities Dad supported, but I know that he gave generously to his church routinely, and his extended family and friends as well whenever he saw a need. He was always private about his giving. It made him the richest man on Earth in my eyes.
- Respect your elders. I grew up with a healthy sense of fear/admiration/respect for my elders because they were the ones who taught me and loved me and kept me safe. I knew I needed them. Now that I am one, I believe every child should learn this lesson!
- Respect your partner. For 65 years Dad treated Mom with respect, love, admiration, and humor. Sure, they had their arguments, but I don’t believe they ever went to bed angry. They made time to be together, just the two of them, every evening. They talked. They laughed. They danced. They hugged. They provided each of us girls with a glimpse of a future that was possible for us.
Missing and thinking of you this Father’s Day, Daddy-O.
2 replies on “10 Lessons from Dad (in no particular order)”
11. There is no need to speak unless you have something interesting/insightful/useful to say. Silence is a valid and comfortable option.
12. Never underestimate the power of humor. His jokes, especially those with little Johnny, we’re the best!
Indeed! Dad (your grampa) was comfortable with silence–a skill many today do not understand.