I am my dad’s favorite daughter. I know this because he told me so, many times. I’m also his only daughter, but that’s beside the point.
I have been blessed with a wonderful dad. He was very much a part of my life growing up, and continues to be an important part of life. He worked hard to support his family, treats my mom with love and respect, and regularly shows his children that he loves them.
My dad taught me one of the most important skills I use in my adult life: how to drive. My first driving lesson was with my mom, and was less than successful. I crashed. Into a bush. After that, my parents decided it would be better if Dad taught me how to drive. Those lessons went much more smoothly, and had the desired result of me learning how to drive.
From my dad I learned a love of all things science fiction. When the Star Wars original prequel was re-released in theaters, he was so excited. I didn’t really understand what he was talking about, but I knew my dad wanted my brothers and I to have the same kind of experience he did when he saw Star Wars for the first time in theaters. I got into Star Trek in spite of myself. While my parents watched it on our only T.V., it wasn’t going to be tuned to anything but Star Trek. If I wanted to watch T.V., it was going to be Star Trek.
I also learned to love oldies music. When a Beatles song played on the radio, Dad would ask “Who sings this song?” Since he only ever asked us that question about Beatles songs, eventually we just answered “The Beatles” whether or not we had any clue what the song was.
My dad is very punny. From him I learned a love of puns. That’s probably why I think Shakespeare was hilarious, while my husband generally only finds him mildly humorous. If I ever I say to my dad, “I’m hungry,” he responds with, “Hi Hungry, I’m Dad. It’s nice to meet you.” The joke in the picture, while not an actual conversation with my dad, is exactly like what he would say. He’s also very proud that I’ve taught this joke to my second graders. If my students say, “I’m hot,” I say to them, “Hi Hot, it’s nice to meet you.” One day I even overheard my student explaining this joke to a student from another class. My father’s legacy lives on.
But there’s a lot more than interests and mannerisms that I learned from my dad. I also learned life lessons.
I learned to be frugal. As a kid, I only got clothes two times a year: before the school year started, and when I really needed them (and then, only what I needed). I didn’t get a cell phone until I was halfway done with high school. We were frequently told to turn the lights off when we left a room. We mostly only went out to eat for special occasions. I was by no means deprived. I always had what I needed, and I learned that that was good enough.
I don’t have a fancy phone or a lot of other gadgets, I don’t generally buy fancy clothes, and, while I go out to eat a lot more often than I went as a kid, I’ll probably be much happier at Applebee’s than at some fancy restaurant. I don’t feel the need to have the latest and greatest. I don’t need expensive things to be happy. I am blessed to feel gratitude for what I have.
When we went on trips as a family, to museums, or Disneyland, or wherever, Dad would spend what felt like forever examining every minute detail and reading every last placard of every display. It drove the rest of us crazy to wait for him when everyone else was ready to move on. But from his example, I learned to savor the details of life. Disneyland is huge and exciting, but running from ride to ride isn’t what it’s about. It’s about enjoying the experience and spending time with family.
My dad worked hard at his job for many years. It was not a glamorous or even, from what I’ve gathered, a very interesting job. His career was not what he had hoped it would be. He was often unappreciated at work, and his boss didn’t particularly like him. But he kept going, day after day. He did that because he needed to support his family. He needed stability and security for his wife and children.
When I was young, Dad getting home was a big deal. He would be rushed by small children yelling “Daddy!” and all trying to hug him at once. When we all got older, that didn’t happen anymore. Some days, he was barely acknowledged by the children he was working so hard to support.
From my dad, I learned perseverance. I learned to continue to work hard even when it seems I’m not getting anywhere, when I’m not being appreciated, and when there is no external reward forthcoming. I learned it from my dad’s example of working hard at sometimes thankless jobs, like a dull career and raising teenagers.
When I started dating I knew that I was worth a man who would treat me right. I was worth a man who would respect and never abuse me. I learned this from my father. He didn’t tell me this in so many words. He showed me by his actions. My mom was and is his beloved companion, and I was and am his princess.
I learned a lot from my dad. When I try to think of wise words my father taught me, I can’t think of any. My dad didn’t teach me through words. He taught me by example.
Every girl needs a dad. It’s too bad they can’t all have dads like mine.