Some dads are known for fatherly advice or scaring off high school boyfriends … not mine.
Still … the quiet guy who didn’t say much, in his own way, taught me a lot.
1. Consistency and Hard Work: Whether he loved his job or not, he never said … but he was rock-steady as he got up and went to work each day. He used his talents to make ads that sold TV’s and washing machines and cars, and he was good at it. In so doing, he provided for his family and made a life.
2. Enjoy Your Passions: Dad was the original tech early adopter. His eyes would gleam with the discovery of a new camera or gadget, and he’d delight in showing you its state-of-the-art features. He also loved a sharp sports car … and whether family friendly or not, a new one would end up in the driveway every few years.
His truest passion was the excitement of the racetrack, and he turned handicapping racehorses into a side hustle called “Shaw’s Best Bets”. SBB didn’t make a fortune, but he loved doing it. Which leads to my next point …
3. Money Does Not Equal Success: He wasn’t rich, but he was. He used the GI bill to buy a Levitt house in the ‘burbs, with a patio in the yard. We took driving vacations to Fort Ticonderoga and Washington, DC., and had special occasion dinners where we dined on shrimp cocktails and felt like the rich and famous.
He had what he needed: his family, his job, his dog, his friends at the track, his art, his car, his gadgets, his health, Friday night poker, and in his short retirement, golf at a public course. It was enough.
4. Use Your Temper Sparingly: I’m pretty even-tempered, but his quiet cool is still beyond my grasp. There were only a few times I ever really saw my dad lose it, no matter what we kids did. There was just a line that you didn’t cross … then again, if you were stupid enough to cross it, there would be hell to pay.
5. Helicopter Parent? No Way. He lived his life, not ours. We kids were cared for, and loved for who we were, but not coddled. We weren’t expected to achieve anything other than to be ourselves and become independent. We were given the green light to follow our dreams, or fail trying. Is there any better parental gift than that?
6. Be Yourself. Other dads coached little league, mine tried it once, and it wasn’t for him. He took me to the circus, the zoo … and the racetrack. He taught me to handicap horses, and to play poker. We shared an artistic talent, so he taught me to use a darkroom and wield an airbrush. Maybe not essential life skills, but all handy in their own way.
My Point? Dad wasn’t perfect — his marriage didn’t survive the stresses of time or illness, and in it’s messier aspects, his life was also an example of what not to do — but he enjoyed his life and gave me the foundation to enjoy mine. And that’s enough.
Thank you to all the great dads out there who do the essential work of fatherhood … teaching your kids how to live, day in and day out. Have a wonderful Father’s Day.
P.S. A handy piece of fatherly advice: never draw to an inside straight. Thanks again, Dad!
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