This Father’s Day I considered getting you a gift. You know, like a Tie or a sweater, or a lawn mower. But if Father’s Day is supposed to be a day when we show dad’s how much we appreciate them, then what kind of message does a tie or a lawn mower give? “Thanks for looking good? Thanks for mowing the lawn?” That’s not what I want to say so I decided to write this letter to you, and let you know the three most important things I learned from you.
Now I learned a lot of stuff from you Dad. Some of it was clearly articulated like “When you serve at a dinner or a party you are the last person to eat.” Some of it was less clearly articulated like the lesson I learned about how speaking is not the same as communicating. So here’s a quick list of some of the great lessons I’ve taken from you that didn’t make it to my top three:
- When people call you crazy what they really mean is “I’m terrified you may be right”
- How you say something is just as important as how you say it
- The chef tastes first but eats last
- Speaking is not the same as communicating
- Leaders are made in the mud not the boardroom
- Clean up after yourself
- Don’t expect others to do that which you are unable or unwilling to do yourself
- Give credit where credit is due.
- Taking responsibility for yourself is a privilege – so take it.
Here are the three lessons that I think are the most important to me that I learned from you.
You taught me how to be a man. All these little lessons you taught me growing up, proper behavior, what was a right and what a privilege how even rights can be seen as privileges, these showed me the key components of how to be a man and how to behave like one. You taught me that the keys to being a man were found in service and compassion and not in any sense of strength or value. You taught me self-respect and how to show respect to others in ways that are perfectly natural while also completely sincere.
You taught me how to be a husband. You came home at night and sat down and talked with Mom. You would tell Yuri and I to buzz off and play so you could have some time with her. You would massage her shoulders and feet without a second thought. As much as you might tease, you were never disparaging and never when it mattered. There are a million little things you did for Mom that I can’t remember and that you probably don’t remember either, but you showed me in a way that books and lesson never could, what it means to be a good and loving husband.
You taught me how to be a dad. I remember once a friend of yours had a teenage son, a little older than me, commit suicide and you went the funeral. When you came back you went looking for me gave me a hug and told me what happened. At the time all I really understood was that this hug was for you and not for me. Now I understand that it shows the depth of love a father must have for his kids. As much as you told me how much you loved me over the years, and as much as you encouraged me and pushed me forward, that moment stands out in my mind as the day I really understood what it means to be a dad.
So thank you Dad. Thank you from me, for showing me how to be a man. Thank you from Joan for teaching me how to be a husband, and thank you from the boys, for teaching me how to be a Dad like you.