Friday, July 20, 2012

Things I’ve Learned from My Dad

How to tie my shoes …How to wear my shoes correctly – are all parents such sticklers for wearing the right shoe on the right foot? My dad surely was …
How to do math, by “seeing” it – we both suck at it, so he taught me this trick where you have to write the numbers in your head like they were on paper, and add them, imagining you’re writing the total down, with your pen … You can’t make a mistake. He was right.

How to cook pretty much anything with anything. There is no ingredient that is taboo; there is no mix and match that is wrong.
How to bone a chicken in no time flat! How to butterfly a chicken breast and a steak.
How to marinade and pickle things.
How to stock up for just about the rest of my life, in food, especially.
How to make wine.

He taught me one of my biggest passions – photography. We shot the pictures and worked them together, in his dark room, ever since I can remember.
He taught me to see, to really pay attention, and to notice what’s beyond the surface. Always.

He and I being born with the same affliction, he taught me how fragile health is, and how to make the most of my life – as limited as my body allows it to be.

He taught me the incredible wealth of books. He taught me to have opinions and stick to them. He showed me, through him, the power of consistency and perseverance. He taught me stubbornness.

He taught me how to party hard and laugh even harder. In my darkest and saddest days, I can never imagine my dad not smiling, laughing out loud or cracking a joke. Sure, he can seem very serious at times, but to me he will forever be a clown. There is no one who can make me laugh harder than dad! And I am not alone! He is famous for his hilarious parties, where people leave with stomach aches, not from his delicious food, but from laughing so hard! People flock to him, for fun and good times!

He taught me how to save for darker days. He taught me how to look for bargains and save, save, save. I never did inherit his love of shopping, though!

He pushed me off the edge – always. Whatever I was doing, I could always do better, go further, reach higher. He was right – I always could.

He taught me not to be afraid. He was afraid of things, I think, but he always demanded me to not be; to believe that fear is stupid. My dreams have come true, because dad’s permanent encouragement.

He taught me to always say the truth, and if it gets me in trouble by saying it, to keep fighting for it. It is the right, most valuable thing.

He taught me how to be a real friend. He was always loyal to his friends and family. But he also told me that it’s OK to let go. If someone is not worth the trouble, you can let go of their friendship.

He taught me to fight for what I believe in, but also to give up a fight not worth having. “The smartest one gives up first, a fight not worth it” – he says. 

He taught me the love of mountains and of clear pasture mornings, where the dew is thick and cold and the cows are mooing in the valley. He taught me how to pick wild mushrooms and make wild strawberries and cream.

He taught me to love animals, sometimes more than people.
He taught me to love my sister and care for her.

He taught me how to make fire and smoke meat. How to tend to a garden and how to not live without pets or even adopted strays. A typical Cancer, his home is his heaven. And he taught me that, too. I love to travel more than he did, but I surely love to have a home I can come to.

He taught me everything I know about music. He taught me The Beatles, Janis Joplin and CCR. These are names I remember hearing back in the days of baby food and diapers. Seriously. I can’t imagine a family gathering where dad is not playing the air guitar and dancing on some old 60’s rock song.

There is one thing dad tried to teach me and he never could: he never taught me how to ride a bike. I think he considers that his personal failure to this day. I don’t. 

I look at parents today, especially dads, and especially dads of girls, and I am flabbergasted how little they are involved in the life of their children. My dad taught me almost everything I need to know about life, growing up, being tough, living, giving, loving and having no regrets. He taught me “things” and he taught me values, and feelings, and stands.

My dad is 60 this week and I still think of him as young. He’s a goofball and as serious as a heart attack all in one person. He’s the first I think of when I head to a concert, and the first I think of when I head for the kitchen island with a butcher’s knife, ready to chop a piece of chicken: “what would dad make of this?!”. 

I only think 60 is a scary age when I think I’ll get there in 23 years – way less than I have lived so far. But 60 for dad is just coming of age, to me.

I called him yesterday, and I asked: “So, dad, do you feel old today?” He goes: “How can I feel old? I was just born today!”

That’s my daddy – in a nutshell.

Love you dad, and hope you make us laugh for many, many, many long years to come!

You tell me who the 5 year old is!
(dad, dancing on CCR for my birthday this year) 

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