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Dad, It's Been Awhile. Happy Father's Day

Father's Day photo from Dad's funeral

This Father’s Day is a tough one for me, as it marks the first without my dad, who passed away last August at the age of 92. Reflecting on his life and the lessons he taught me, I find myself filled with both sorrow and gratitude.

My dad was a towering figure, both literally and figuratively, standing at 6'5" and leaving an even larger legacy of wisdom and love. Today I want to share the top five lessons I learned from my dad, lessons that continue to guide me every day.

1. Everyone is Your Best Friend

Dad had a unique way of making everyone feel like his best friend. Trips to the hardware store or church always took longer for him because he couldn’t resist striking up conversations with everyone he met. As a kid, I would often roll my eyes and tug on his sleeve, eager to leave. But Dad never hurried. He believed in giving people his full attention, shaking hands, asking questions, and genuinely caring about their responses.

Looking back, I realize the profound impact this had on me, teaching me the value of human connection and the importance of treating everyone with kindness and respect.

2. The Sun is Your Mortal Enemy

Despite his imposing stature, Dad had one nemesis: the sun. As a pale redhead, he took sun protection very seriously. Summers at Lake Shasta with Dad were always memorable, not just for the fun, but for his unique style of sun protection. Like a superhero of some sort and fully dressed in long sleeves, long pants, socks, and always a hat, he was quite the sight. Even more delightful that this outfit was his SWIMWEAR!

His commitment to avoiding sunburns was unwavering and taught me the importance of self-care and preparedness, even if it means standing out in an uncomfortable or embarrassing way.

3. Justice for All!

At sporting events, my usually mild-mannered dad transformed into a fervent advocate for justice. I remember vividly the time he stormed onto a basketball court to protest a referee’s call—my team wasn’t even playing! He was escorted out of a high school gym more than once! His passion and sense of justice were both amusing and inspiring.

He showed me that it’s okay to stand up for what you believe in, even if it means making a scene. This lesson in standing up for fairness and being vocal about what’s right has stayed with me throughout my life.

4. If You Think You Can, You're at Least Partly Right

Dad’s confidence in his abilities was both impressive and motivating. He was neither a carpenter nor a contractor, but he built a garage and added on to our family home with his own hands. This was long before YouTube tutorials, yet he believed he could do it and, for the most part, he succeeded.

His can-do attitude and willingness to tackle challenges head-on taught me the power of belief in oneself and the value of persistence and hard work.

5. If You Break My Trust, You'll Break My Heart

One of the most important lessons Dad taught me was about integrity. I’ll never forget the time I got caught stealing a street sign. His disappointment was palpable, and he made it clear that trust was something sacred. “Be the best person you know how,” he said, “and keep learning how to be better.” His words have guided me ever since, reminding me to strive for honesty and integrity in all that I do.

As I navigate this first Father’s Day without him, I am comforted by these lessons and the countless memories of our time together. Dad’s legacy lives on in the values he instilled in me and the love he shared so generously.

To all who are celebrating Father’s Day, cherish the moments with your loved ones. And to my dad, thank you for everything. Your wisdom, love, and spirit continue to light my way.

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