Lessons From My Dad

May 5th, October 1st, October 18th, November 28th, December 5th

The worst days of my life. We’ve passed the one year mark, even two years, for most of these, but today is the worst one. The day we lost my dad. I have pages and pages of sadness written out. Trying to explain how I feel, how grief feels, trying to make others understand. But no matter how sad my story is and no matter how well I explain what grief is like, until you experience it you won’t know. So I changed my mind on what I want to say on this one year anniversary of the worst day of my life, I want to tell you about my Dad.

Where to even begin? My Dad was one of a kind. God I hate using past tense. My Dad IS one of a kind, I haven’t met anyone like him before and I doubt I ever will. My Dad taught me so many lessons. He played a huge role in making me who I am today. He was a good man, he loved his family more than anything in the world and worked hard for us every single day of his life. Nothing made him happier than to see everyone he loved happy.

These are the lessons that stand out most in my mind from him that I'd like to share with you.

Life’s Not Fair

Wow Dad, you really took this lesson to the extreme. Live life as you should, follow the rules, always do the right thing, be a good human being only to get a deadly form of cancer at a relatively young age. Talk about not fair. My Dad always told me this whenever I was complaining about anything. “Life’s not fair and the sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be” he’d say. And he was right. He was right, he is right, and he’ll always be right. 

Pros and Cons To Everything

This is probably the thing I quote most from my Dad. He would say it all the time, whenever there was decision making involved. My mom and I would (and still do) discuss things endlessly and I think he would often get a little annoyed with us - ha! He would cut right to the chase - “there’s pros and cons to everything”. What he meant was that there’s not often going to be a perfectly clear cut, 100% perfect option when it comes to making most decisions in life. You can find the pros and cons to just about everything. I think about this all the time and it is just so true in every situation. My Dad never got to be very old, but clearly he somehow got to be wise before his time. 


One of the greatest gifts that my Dad gave me was my love for music. My entire life he was always introducing me to new kinds of music, bringing instruments into the house, and taking me to concerts. I will definitely be continuing on his legacy in that way with my daughters because music is one of life’s biggest blessings. It can make us feel so many different emotions and take us back to moments in time. Live music is something I haven’t heard much of since he passed and I miss it terribly. I can’t count the number of concerts my Dad and I went to together. Probably hundreds, and I am so SO grateful for all of those memories. 

Don’t Be A Victim 

Pity parties were not something my Dad was a fan of. Unfortunately for him he ended up having a very emotional daughter, who often dealt with her problems through tears. I remember him getting upset with my one time when I was crying over my school schedule not working out, he wanted me to take action, get it fixed, do what I had to do to make it the way I wanted. I kind of yelled back at him that I was doing all that, I just needed to cry while I did it. And he accepted that. 

Again, he got to show his true colors with this lesson and he upheld it for sure. When the cancer had spread and the doctors said there was nothing else they could do, he still didn’t play the victim card. He said, “I may not be the luckiest guy in the world, but I’m certainly not the unluckiest”. I don’t think I’ll ever forget him saying that and how blown away I was (and am) by that response. Only the good die young, it’s true. 

It’s kind of funny now being a parent myself and experiencing true hardship in life, I find myself being just like my Dad. I understand now why it was so frustrating for him to see me get SO upset over such small problems. I get it now, Dad.

It Is Better To Give Than To Receive

I think it’s my mom who actually says this phrase, but both my mom and dad have always lived it to the fullest. My dad was always the one there to help family and friends with whatever they needed. From advice, to lending tools, to lending a hand. He was constantly bringing home gift wrap, cookies, and popcorn from supporting his co-workers’ kids’ fundraisers (all the while never wanting to bother anyone by bringing my fundraisers into work). In our family he was always the one everyone called with any technology questions or if they wanted to know how to fix something with their house or car. He was always happy to help and never did it with any expectation of the other person owing him anything. He was certainly my go-to when it came to pretty much everything. I deeply miss his counsel on decisions big and small.

Live Like No One Else So You Can Live Like No One Else

He used to always say this quote, I’m not sure if he heard it from someone or came up with it but I’ll give the credit to him. “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else”. This is one of those lessons that is hard to sum up in a paragraph. I’m sure he could have had the perfect words to explain but I just can’t seem to find them. It’s basically like the anti-“keeping up with the Joneses”. If I had to pick a life motto for my dad, this would be it. Work hard, save more and spend less, go the extra mile.

I hate that he never truly got to appreciate the fruits of his labor. He would say that he did, he always did a better job than me at living in the moment. But I wish that he would have been able to eventually retire from his job and play golf everyday and travel and spend time on his many hobbies. It’s not fair, it is just not fair. And yes, I hear him telling me to see lesson #1!

There are so many more lessons from him that I am not even capable of articulating. If you were lucky enough to really know my dad, then you know what I mean. He was just the smartest person, so knowledgeable about literally everything. I miss his perspective on things, I miss his advice, I miss hearing his voice in general. And his hugs, he gave the best hugs.

1 comment

  1. This is so wondedfully written, and so glad you wrote these out. Our girls can look back on these and see just how many teachings come straight from their grandpa. He was a truely humble, caring, and helpful father-in-law. I'll never forget and be so thankful for all the projects we got to work together on. I know he IS so proud of you for the wonderful wife, mother and daughter you were and have become! I love you so baby.