Given that it’s Father’s Day week, I wanted to take the time to mention something about my Dad. I call him my Dad and not my Father because when I was growing up, he taught me that any man can be a Father but it takes a real man to be a Dad.
He was drafted into the U.S. Navy when he was 18, during the Vietnam war and has survived multiple helicopter crashes both on land and in the ocean, during his time in the Navy. My Dad is a blue collar guy who always had grease on his hands and hung the American flag in our yard with pride. He’s a God fearing man that would work all day long and then coach high school baseball until the sun went down.
If something broke around our house he would buy the part and fix it himself. Growing up, I had never even seen a repairman. He was always in the garage taking something apart or building something. He would help me and my friends fix our cars when we were teenagers. That is when he taught me that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Never cut corners or take the easy way in life.
My Dad has always had a quiet calm and steadiness about him. He never acted out of emotion or irrationally. He let me go through all of the usual phases that teenage boys go through, without judgement. He never forced me to do, or not do, anything. He let me figure out those things on my own. When I was old enough to understand, he told me there are two types of people in this world. The type who always do what is right no matter what, and then there’s everyone else.
It wasn’t until I became a Dad myself that I realized how grateful I was for all of the life lessons he taught me. But with my Dad, I learned not from him telling me, but from watching him and how he treated others. Family, respect, and doing the right thing have always been the most important things to him.
I remember in the devastating earthquake of 1989, our neighborhood in Mountain View, CA didn’t have electricity for almost an entire month. My Dad used his gas powered generator to not only give electricity to our house but also to our neighbors on both sides of us. Basically, if you had an extension cord long enough to reach from your house to our house, my Dad would give you electricity and expected nothing in return. He’s always been that kind of man.
We had an elderly couple, in their mid-eighties living in the house next to us. They didn’t have any children or family that lived in California. They were essentially on their own. Anytime there was a storm, a power outage, the weather was unusually hot or cold, or if he simply hadn’t seen them in a few days, he would always make sure to go over there just to check on them.
He probably doesn’t even know that I noticed these things, but I did. These are the types of life lessons I learned by just simply watching him.
He taught me that morals and values will always be more important than money or success because one day we will all have to answer to God. He taught me to always help people in need and always protect people who can’t protect themselves.
Still to this day, he is the most honest and humble man I know. I will forever be grateful to him. I hope that one day I can pass these values down to my children.