Tribute to My Dad on His Birthday
Several months ago, I was asked to write a 600-word story about how my father has contributed to my success in life. It was supposed to be published in a book paying tribute to fathers, but I believe the project has fallen-through. Nonetheless, I have had this piece and had been wondering how I might share it with Dad. I hope you don’t mind joining me in saying “Thank you” to my dad and wishing him a happy birthday!
“I never believed in ‘love at first sight’…until I laid eyes on you.”
– My Dad
This note was in a letter I received on an 8th-grade retreat. Dad later apologized that his letter was so short compared to Mom’s. “Maybe I didn’t say enough,” he said.
Need he say more?
My life has been blessed beyond measure because of my father. Reflecting on his influence in my life, there are a few specific characteristics that stand out; traits that are directly responsible for my success in life and my happiness as a wife and mother.
A Strict Work Ethic
Dad would often say, “I don’t care if I have to work three jobs…you kids will not have to work your way through college like I did.” Dad was the first member of his family to go to college. He worked 2-3 jobs at a time, taking eight years to complete school. I appreciated that he was still willing to work so hard to protect us from the struggles he faced. But, I also learned from his example and internalized his high expectations.
I struggled in school for many years. When I entered college, I knew something had to change or I was not going to survive the expectations and workload. So, I did what I always saw Dad do …I researched solutions.
Dad has always invested in self-improvement books, classes, and cassette tapes. He didn’t know until recently that I sometimes snuck away to listen to his tapes. I guess I was a closet “nerd.” But, I was intrigued by the concept that you could learn how to improve yourself.
Looking back, researching solutions to problems was a completely natural process for me, thanks to Dad’s example. So, I began looking for resources on how to prepare for college. From this process, I learned study strategies that propelled me from being a “struggling high school student,” to a near 4.0 student during my first college term.
Since then, I’ve had much success teaching others the same study skills that helped me.
But none of that would have come about if Dad had not been a role model for me as a learner.
Love for His Children
I will never be able to fully appreciate how much my life has been empowered from my father’s love. He always managed to find ways to tell us how much he cared. One of the most popular sound bytes from our youth was Dad saying, “I wouldn’t trade you kids for anything! Not even a million bucks!”
Love for My Mom
I once read that the greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother. On the day before my daughter was born (via scheduled c-section), I received a card from Dad. It was a beautiful Hallmark card, but his post-script spoke volumes more:
When I was dating your mother, I gave her a Mother’s Day card. In the card, I stated that whether or not I was in the picture, it would be a crime if she didn’t have children.
You will agree that she is a unique person. A person everyone would like to be or be with. Wow!! Here it is, almost 40 years later and that “Unique Gal” is married to me and she has a “Unique Daughter.”
Tomorrow, that “Unique Daughter” is going to give her one of the greatest gifts one can hope for…a grand-daughter. I’m truly blessed!
Once again, Dad did not need many words to convey a message of a lifetime.
Happy birthday, Dad! Love U, too!
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