Things I Learned From My Father
My Dad was my hero in so many ways. I didn't know then just how much his life impacted mine. But all these years later, I now know.
I only had him for the first 13 years of my life. But he packed an amazing amount of life lessons in those 13 years. I have carried those lessons with me for my entire life, sometimes not even realizing that I was. He battled cancer for almost 3 years before he let go and went home to Jesus. During those 3 years I learned a lot about the human spirit.
He got up and got dressed every, single day while he was sick. And even though I know there were days when it was hard, he was determined to not let cancer change his life any more than possible. What I learned from that was that normalcy can create calm when all around your world might be falling apart.
He kept his sense of humor during those dark days. I inherited my sense of humor from him. But even more than that, I learned that laughing made most problems easier than crying.
He taught me to be self deprecating. Its not that he had low self esteem, but rather that he saw humor in himself and was able to be easygoing when someone might have poked fun. Its better to be comfortable in your own skin than to think you are above others...for in life, there will always be those waiting to knock you off your pedestal.
He taught me patience. He was infinitely patient with me when I needed help with math homework. I am sure he was in pain many nights when I would ask for help. But he never showed it and looking back I realize that I had no idea what true patience is.
He taught me love of family. Perhaps one of his greatest gifts because there really is nothing more important in life than family.
He taught me pride. Not false pride because that quickly shows itself to be false. But my Dad was proud of himself and what he had achieved in his life as a first generation son of immigrants. He knew the value of hard work and he passed that on to me, his only child. He gave me a strong work ethic and the ability to realize a job well done.
He taught me personal responsibility. For without that, we are mere shells of human beings. Own it when you make a mistake and try to do better.
He taught me how to harmonize and instilled in me a life long love of music. I totally credit him for my love of Broadway musicals, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Ive mentioned many times that I can hear his voice crooning from still, summer nights long ago, while lying in the hammock in our back yard. Music has helped get me thru some tough times as I believe it did the same for Dad.
Of all the things though, I am most inspired by the courage he showed during his fight with cancer. In the early 1960's cancer won most of its battles because there were so few options for treatment and most of them involved left the patient weak and debilitated. My Dad never gave in..never gave up. He tried every treatment, had every surgery, took every pill and prayed. A lot. He taught me tenacity, bravery and at the same time, while watching him die, he taught me it was okay to let go.
The word “stoic” comes to mind when I think of him those last few months.
He never complained.
I learned a lot from my Dad. I learned that the human spirit can control it's destiny and overcome anything..even fear of death. He remained the same Daddy I had always known right up to the end.
And I learned that the ability to love people and show them that they are loved, wins, hands down over anything life throws at us... cancer and pain and even death.
Up until the very end, every, single person who knew my Dad, knew that they were loved.
August 15, 1919 - May 8, 1964