My father died nine years ago today. One of the many gifts of my firewalk retreat experience, was finding some peace in my dad's passing. I can still hear Hawk saying, "Death is one moment. To live in perpetual grief for that one moment does a vast injustice to all the other moments before it."
Rich and grateful memories live within the billions of moments my dad had on this earth. Everything from getting great advice and feeling cared for when I needed it most, to sharing burnt potato chips and laughing at awful jokes. ("Doctor, Doctor! It hurts when I do this!" ... "So, don't do that!")
Still, I miss him. It's hard not to wish for a parallel universe where I could still get his love, humor, and advice at the push of a button. It's a selfish indulgence that seems to rise to the surface on days like this.
To keep myself from wallowing, I've been re-reading stories I've written about my dad over the years. They bring to life so many of those moments; happy movies playing in my mind.
Here's one snippet:
The scene was a networking luncheon at a large conference. Myself and eight men wearing shiny suits were sitting at a large round table, eyeing each other over pale pink conference linens. My companions were all top leaders at the world's largest technology companies. This was before cell phones, so we had to actually talk to each other. (Gasp!)
One of the executives decided to get the lunch conversation started by asking everyone to describe their "hero" to the rest of the table. This was a pivotal moment for me. Most of my previous ice-breaker experiences involved describing my favorite vegetable.
When it was my turn, I told everyone that my hero was my Dad. Typing it now, it seems like a corny response. It's the kind of thing a pageant contestant would say if she had no intellectual or historical frame of reference for something better. The rest of my table cited peacemakers, inventors, explorers, scientists, and other "real" heroes.
Surprisingly, people seemed genuinely interested in my answer. One of the attendees said thoughtfully, "Wow. I'd say your dad is a pretty successful guy. For his daughter to say that... wow. I sure hope my kids say that someday." This was a man in the top role at a multi-billion dollar computer company.
When I was thinking about the lessons Dear Ol' Dad taught me throughout my life, these are the first things that came to mind. My siblings sometimes remind me of others which is also fun.
10 life lessons I learned from my hero:
1. You can't burn a candle from both ends... at least not for very long.
2. If you're forcing something too hard, you're doing it wrong.
3. Sometimes pain doesn't actually teach you anything, but it sure will show you what you're up against.
4. Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty but the pig likes it.
5. If you want to get more done in the day, wake up earlier.
6. If you really want something, keep looking until you find it (or something better).
7. The best education is about learning how to learn.
8. You don't have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you.
9. People in love think they're invisible.
10. When you're thinking about someone, let them know. It will make their day.
Recently, my son wrote an essay where he referred to me as his hero. Since he's 14, and literally everything embarrasses him, he didn't let me read it. My daughter also wrote me a letter once which captured the same theme.
Perhaps the best thing my dad taught me was to be a parent that my kids can look at with sincere love, admiration, and respect. In that regard, I'd say I'm a pretty successful gal.
Thanks Daddy. Love you.
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