We all know that their are way too many things that we are taught as a child to name every single one. I turn 34 today, and to tell the truth, I’m still learning things daily from my father. He gave me a birthday card and that card meant more to me than any gift I’ve ever gotten. Money cannot buy the feeling of having a parent proud of you. Background…my father was a mother and a father for a large portion of my childhood. He’s never been afraid to tell me to “act like I have some sense”, but he’s always been there to pick my butt up when I didn’t listen to his advice, too.
A little background on the man. He was born in the early 40s..1943 to be exact. A Christmas baby. His father was a hard working coal minor/farmer. I guess he had to work hard..seeing as how he and my grandmother had 12 children. My dad grew up poor and it taught him a lot about what is really important. He is a veteran, a father, a grandfather, a 3x divorcee. He was a hard worker…which is why he needed back surgery before he turned 40. Doctor cut a nerve and he never walked again without assistance. He’s certainly got a long list of faults. He spent most of his life too fond of alcohol, and he was a horrible husband. He’s overprotective, and has a nasty temper. He’s also my best friend in the entire world.
I happen to be his only daughter out of five children. I’m also the youngest. On any given day, I speak to two people on my cell phone…my husband and my father. In my defense, I’m his annoying overprotective daughter. Plus, he is my next door neighbor. So, I have good reason to call him several times a day. (Reason in my head.) I’ve learned so much from him, probably not all good…but let’s focus on the good.
- How to count. I mean, a 4 year old hanging out with a drunk man playing poker doesn’t sound really smart. Look at it this way, I not only learned to count, I learned another valuable life skill as well…my poker face cannot be beaten.
- Alcohol isn’t that bad for you. I live in the bible belt, and around here, alcohol is like the devil or something. Now, my daddy has done some stupid stuff while drinking. I’ll be the first to tell you that, but he’s also pretty fun most of the time.
- Hard work is required, and if you want something, you need to work for it. I truly value that lesson since society doesn’t really teach it anymore. I loved horses as a kid. Fine..but I had to feed, water, walk the fence line…my horse was my responsibility. The man can’t walk and never waste a day. A lot of people could stand to learn from the man.
- Patience. OK..I could still stand a little work with this one. Since before I could remember, my father took me fishing. Fishing is a sport of extreme patience. I have to say, like poker, something else I can do better than most men.
- Never care what others think of you, especially if you are doing the right thing. I didn’t get it as a teenager, but I get it now. Only took me 20 years. As an extension of this rule, never try to keep up with the Jones’. The people showing off the most stuff…usually have the most debt and the least money. The older I get, the truer it is.
- Country life ain’t that bad. He’s right. I didn’t get this one as a kid either, but now I find myself on the phone asking if he sees the deer in the field between our homes. Yes, that’s entertaining. Even worse, we garden. Oh yeah, I’ve stopped getting my nails done in the Summer. And…lol I love to whittle. There is something soothing about conversation on a porch on a rainy Summer evening while whittling away at a stick. Of course, I’ve been whittling since before I started school.
- A little paranoia don’t hurt. I mean, the man has been drilling the dangers of snakes in my head since I could walk. Sure, I do have a crazy fear of snakes, but it’s served me well living in snake country.
- Car repair. Long before I had a husband..I was a teenager with a car. My father taught me how to change a tire…cause I worked late after dark most nights and no one wants their daughter out at night on a dark road …stuck. (This was before there was any cell signal in the entire county.) He also showed me how to change breaks, plugs, wires, oil…the basics. I mean, if anyone owns a car, they should know a few basics.
- How to ride a bike. I remember how easy it was for my brother, and how hard it was for me. I remember being so excited to get a bike, and then my temper rising cause I couldn’t just take off. (Something else I got from my father, a temper…but I’m focusing on the good.) While sitting on the ground crying, my father said, “Well, ride it or kill it, but get it off the ground.” I kicked the bicycle…then I picked it up and was riding like a pro within an hour.
- If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. He never went into debt for anything he didn’t have to. He can be a pretty smart guy!
- People will always say they will do things, but they don’t always follow through. Being there, keeping your word, is priceless. If you say you will do it, do it. If you love someone, value them, and you can do it, get off your ass and do it.
- Parenthood is a thankless job. I could never repay my father for all he’s done for me. Whether they admit it or not, neither could my brothers. They most likely, would not admit it. Children take and take and whether it’s intentional or not, rarely give back. I think of being a teenager..ha and I have a teenager now, but I remember how much of a brat I could be. There was Dad, with unconditional love, even when I didn’t deserve it.
- A good song tells a good story and Don Williams can tell a hell of a story. As I mentioned, my father liked to drink a little. A typical Saturday night included beer and music. I don’t mean a party. The man liked to sit on his porch, drink a 12 pack, and listen to music. He played Merle Haggard, Freddy Fender, and Don Williams. He played a lot of other old country music, but those were my favorites. (If you have never listened to Don Williams, pull up youtube and listen to some of him.) While all the other kids were listening to Prince and Michael Jackson…I was “Livin’ on Tulsa Time”. (FYI..that’s a Don Williams song.) They call him the “Gentle Giant” because he’s so big, but his voice could melt butter.
- Family does not always equal blood. My mother was pregnant when he met her. If I had not been told when I was 9, I still would not know that my brother is my half brother. In our house, there was never any difference made. Even though my brother has met his biological father, our dad is still his “Dad”. The man who raised him from love and not obligation. I have an ex sister in law, as she got smart and divorced my brother several years ago. My father has never failed to invite her to a family gathering. My brother abused pills and his wife. She’s the mother of my father’s grandchildren, and a good woman…always welcome in his home.
- Most importantly, my father taught me that “Daddy’s Hands” is more than a song. To me, that song is a person, my father. With all his faults, he’s my daddy, and I’m a lucky girl to have him! Lyrics to “Daddy’s Hands” (Since, unless you were an 80s country music child, you probably have no idea what I am talking about.) “Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel
when I’d done wrong
Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle
But I’ve come to understand
There was always love
in Daddy’s hands”