In case you got all the ads for bbq grills and neckties in your morning papers last week but couldn't put two and two together, last Sunday was Father's Day. I built my dad a birdhouse, made him a cheesecake, and brought him Starbucks. Nothing says "thanks for devoting most of your adult life to making sure I thrive" quite like some nailed-together sticks and a 12000 calorie afternoon snack. What else do you get the man who gave you everything? My dad taught me just about every important thing I know. How could I say a proper thank you for that?
My mom taught me plenty, for sure. She taught me about forgiveness and softness and love that couldn't be disappointed. The stuff you wouldn't find in a users manual. Intuition. Faith. Touchy-feely choose your own adventure stuff. Wonderful stuff.
But Dad had a program for life. Bullet points for living. He was a teaching machine. He taught me that my opinion matters and I ought to voice it. Stick to it. Fight for it if it's right and needs fighting for. He taught me to always be proud, but never boastful. He taught me that it's okay to cry when you lose, but winning must always be done gracefully. Humbly. And winning itself was the reward, the award. No need for trophies. He taught me that if you're holding someone's ladder, you can't ever let it fall. Ever. He taught me that some things can be cured with a back rub or some sunshine on your face. He taught me respect without ever uttering the word. He taught me that there are people in this world who aren't smart. Who aren't fortunate. These are the people who need to be helped. He taught me that to think otherwise is narrow-minded and selfish. Not everyone has boots, much less bootstraps. He taught me to wonder. He taught me to read. He taught me to learn. He taught me to breathe. And he taught me to work hard, play hard, and listen to my coach.*
Dad, if the birdhouse were a thousand times bigger, I may have written upon it all the words to say how much I love you and appreciate the fact that the good in me came from the good in you. Until I can build that one, I just want you to know that I listened. And I remembered.
*(Work hard. Play hard. Listen to your coach. It was the theme song. The mantra. It was what we were told over and over and sternly reminded of when we had forgotten. It was the headliner. All other lessons were simply subsets of this holy trilogy. It was our pep talk. It was our remedy. It was our mission. Never mind what Jesus would do, what would you do? Work hard. Play hard. Listen to your coach.)