Sunday, June 19, 2011

Things I learned from my father

"It is a wise father that knows his own child." -- William Shakespeare

It's Father's Day today. My father died in 1985. I think of him often, but there's something about Father's Day that was special when he was alive and is still special today. For me, it was always a way to say "Thank you" to a man that I both loved and feared. I would make him a card with my crayons when I was a kid and later would give him a card and a present. He seemed to like those cards as he kept them all.

My father was a man of few words and didn't talk about feelings. We didn't have those fatherly chats that I've read about. But I learned a number of things from him that I am thankful for. I want to share some of those with you on this Father's Day.

My father taught me how to care for a large vegetable garden growing in the backyard. He loved to grow vegetables. He would till up the soil, plant tomatoes, beans, corn, and strawberries. I would help him put the seeds in the ground. It was my job thereafter to weed and water the plants. From doing this I learned responsibility.

My father taught me how to fish and feel at home on the water. He was quite a fisherman. He always had a boat, and we would get up early to be able to hit the water on the last of ebb tide. He showed me how to bait my hook, wait for the fish to bite and then set the hook. My father taught me how to run the boat and to watch the signs that the water gave that shoals were ahead. From watching and waiting for fish and tide I learned patience.

My father taught me about monetary values. I was given a weekly allowance but was not allowed to spend it freely. I was told to put some of it aside so that it would accumulate into a larger sum. I was taught to think about what I spent money on and to not buy things that wouldn't last. My father would not loan money to others, but he would loan tools and give away fish and vegetables to neighbors and friends. From this, I learned appreciation of what I had, and about charity.

My father taught me to tell the truth. He had a suspicion that I was taking his cigarettes and smoking them with my cousin when I was around 7 years old. He asked me if I had stolen them and was smoking. I told him that I had. He lectured me but told me that I did right by telling the truth because my punishment would have been worse had I not. He told me that he couldnt' stand a liar. From him, I learned about honesty.

My father taught me that actions speak louder than words. He wasn't a "windbag". He would listen to what others had to say and then make his own decisions. He said that there were a lot of people who could talk their way out of anything but it was their deeds that were important. I learned the importance of doing.

My father taught me to care for animals and to love them. The few times I saw him cry were when an animal died or was hurt. He once took my cat to the medical doctor to get a fish hook out of her mouth. There was no vet in town at the time. "Mama cat" became a star and was written up in the local paper. From him, I learned about empathy.

My father taught me to stand up for myself. He never let people walk all over him. And he wasn't afraid to speak his mind if provoked. He didn't like injustice to people or animals. He didn't look down on people but treated everyone he met fairly, unless they proved to be unfair. From him, I learned about fairness.

And I know that there were many other life lessons that I learned from my father. All of these things he taught me have shaped me. The lessons that we learn as children color our life. I hope that the fathers out there realize the importance of that.


  1. smiles. so much our dad teach us...some good wisdom...happy fathers day syd...

  2. I thank God for good and caring fathers. Your dad sounds like a good man. I'm sorry for your loss.

  3. I had no real father but I sure picked a good one for my babies. I am sure they would all agree with what you have written about what their own daddy taught them.
    I know you're not a father, Syd, but you would have made a good one. You're a good man.

  4. Awesome inspire me to make my own "things I learned & am learning from my father"
    I am blessed & grateful to be able to be traveling around the British Islands right now with my dad...
    Some amazing family memories are being made
    My dad has taught me genorosity, loyalty,integrity,
    & so much more...

  5. Thanks Syd for the post.
    Fathers day, today I can look back at my memories with my Dad and realize he suffered from a disease. I can realize some of the good aspects of his life with Alanon's help.

  6. Your father teaching you to grow the large garden was such a gift. As well as all the other life lessons you share here in this post. Lots of reasons you grew into an honorable man.

  7. I lost my dad in 1984.we did not have a close relationship,but I do miss him none the less.Big Time hug. my friend.

  8. I adored my father. He died in 1960 and, although it's been many, many years I will never forget his soft and loving manner. He taught me to love the written word and to fill my life with books. For that I will always be thankful.

  9. I have had the most difficult time finding forgiveness toward my father. I'm grateful that the program is teaching me how. This year I sent him a Father's Day card. Perhaps, someday, I will see all the things that he taught me. I am looking forward to that. I've heard you share a little of your own heartbreak. Thank you for your kind example.

  10. This is such a moving post. I appreciate what you have written. You may not have been a biological father -- but I have no doubt that you have touched others in a caring, concerned fatherly way.

  11. Beautiful share, almost a story. Makes me want to write something similar for my father, while he is still alive...

  12. I think I love your dad. It's the cat with the fish hook story that really cinched it.

  13. Thank you for this. It was good to be reminded of the things I have to be grateful for in my father, even though it's hard for me to relate to him right now.


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