As it is Father's Day, I thought I'd write a bit about my Dad. My Dad has been a teacher for the past 30 + years. He "retired" seven years ago but has two part-time teaching jobs which keep him busy everyday. My Dad has been one of the greatest influences in my life, and I wanted to share with him (and you) some of the most important lessons this perennial teacher has taught me over the years.
Lesson One: The Importance of Faith
I was raised in the church. From the beginning, church was a priority. If the doors were open, we were there, actively involved in kids groups, choir, missions, bells, etc... But more than that, it was important to both of my parents that not only were we in church, but that we "got" church. In our house, we talked about our faith constantly. After church on Sundays, my dad would ask us what we learned. It wasn't a quiz, it was a true discussion. We'd share, then we'd talk and reflect on what was shared as a family. My dad encouraged us to go deeper into our faith, to ask tough questions and to ponder the answers. Even now our conversations are full of biblical study as we continue to question and ponder the mysteries of faith. If I have a Bible question, I call my dad. He gets his Bible out and we go through it together, figuring out the answers together.
Lesson Two: It'll be Okay
Born out of faith, this expression is one of my father's personal mantras. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I call Dad and he assures me with full confidence that, "It'll be okay." And when he says it, I believe him. My Dad gives me peace of mind and heart, while he takes all of my worries and anxieties upon himself. He works through my problems, seeks expert advice, then comes back to me with possible solutions for the problem at hand. No matter how old I get, I know that I will always be my Daddy's little girl and that, until he takes his last breath, he will be working in my life and the lives of my children trying to "make it okay".
Lesson Three: Laughter Cures All
In our house, there is laughter. It doesn't matter how serious the circumstance, how formal the occasion, we laugh. My Dad, with his goofy sense of humor, has taught me that you can, and should, laugh at yourself on a daily basis. And, if I can't laugh at myself, he will do it for me!! :-) Laughter relieves tension, makes impossible situations seem manageable, and keeps you from taking yourself too seriously. When my sister was younger, she had a lisp. And, although my parents got her into speech therapy, it didn't stop us laughing about it. My Dad and I used to ask her to say my name, which has several "s"'s in it. When she'd lisp her way through it, we would all be rolling on the floor. Mean? Maybe. But was my sister embarrassed about her lisp? No way! No one could give her more trouble about it than us! :-) Laughter cures all.
Lesson Four: Work or Play, Give Your Best Each Day
My Dad's philosophy on life is to take it by the horns and go. Work as hard as you play and play as hard as you work. My Dad's philosophy on life is that it's a gift which should be used. When my Dad works, he gives all of himself. He builds relationships with his students that last throughout the years. Students from 25 years ago proudly call him friend. Growing up, Dad lived at the school. He taught high school English, History, Speech, Psychology. He directed the school plays for fifteen years, announced the high school football games for 20, kept stats at the basketball games, coached the golf team to several state placements, and ran the speech/debate program. If his students were in the building, he was there. And, more often than not, so were my sister and I. The high school was a second home to us, which probably explains why my sister and I love working with teenagers today.
Yet, not only does Dad give 110% at work, he also gives 110% at play. Growing up, Dad would play golf every day in the summer leaving my sister and I at the pool. We spent our time splashing around in the water and ordering frozen Snickers bars, cheeseburgers and Shirley Temple's from the clubhouse bar. We'd slide back home minutes before Mom got there and scramble to do at least one of the chores she'd left for us that day! Each summer would also bring a road trip with picnics and museum tours and hours spent scouring old Civil War battlefields. We got up early and stayed up late, filling each day with memories.
Lesson Five: Love Each Day
Now that I have children of my own, my Dad is helping me to appreciate the beauty of each day. One of his best and most common pieces of advice is, "Just enjoy it. You're going to miss these days when they're gone." And although toddlers are a challenge, there's a part of me that knows he's right. Because, Dad does know best.
I love you, Dad!!