It’s Top Five Friday! From the home office in Pella, Iowa. Here are the top five things I appreciate about my father.
- He said “I love you”…every day. He has also said “I’m proud of you.” I have met a startling number of men on my life journey who have significant soul wounds from fathers who never said those words. It wasn’t until I set out on a journey of my own to discover about what it means to be a man that I discovered how this simple act, one that I’d always took for granted, was a true act of manliness that many males just don’t get.
- He taught me how to be affectionate. I’m a hugger. I loved cuddling with my daughters when they were young. I love cuddling with my wife, hugging her, holding her, touching her. I know that the women in my life value my ability to show appropriate, manly, loving affection. I learned that from my dad who was always affectionate with my mother, and with me and my siblings. Interestingly, my earliest memory is of my dad holding me. We were sitting in a black leather chair. He was wearing a white t-shirt. I couldn’t have been older than two or three.
- He taught me to shoot, to fish, and to hunt. While I never developed a passion for fishing and hunting like my dad had, I certainly value the knowledge and the many memories I have of days spent fishing the boundary waters and walking the autumn fields of Iowa with my dad. As an adult, I was once asked if I wanted to go hunting with a bunch of men from church. They assumed that I was unlearned in the field, but I agreed to go and brought my brother’s 20 gauge Remington shotgun to the hunt. The boys gave me a hefty dose of ribbing about my “small gun” and asked why I didn’t use a 12 gauge shotgun which was more powerful and had better range. A short time later when I was the only member of the party with a pheasant in the bag I smiled at my surprised companions and quietly said, “If you know how to shoot, you don’t need a 12 gauge.” Thanks, Dad.
- He taught me the value of hard work. It wasn’t something he said, but something he did. It was growing up watching him do what needed to be done every day. It wasn’t just the getting up and going to work early every morning or sitting and working at the kitchen table on weekends during tax season, but also they way he spent evenings and weekends doing what needed to be done around the house, fixing things up, making things better. It was the expectation of being productive, giving it your best, and doing a good job no matter the task. I watched. I learned. I’m grateful.
- He let me become who I was meant to be. I never felt pressure to be what he wanted me to be or hoped I would be. He didn’t tell me what college to go to and I didn’t get a stern lecture when I chose to be a theatre major. I was never told what extra-curricular activities I would be involved in, but got to choose and explore those things which I enjoyed and the things in which I was interested. I was quietly allowed to make mistakes, even tragic ones, that led to failures which I needed to experience in order to grow and mature. There was never an “I told you so,” “If you’d only listened to me,” “I could have told you,” or “What in the hell were you thinking?!” There was, however, if I may reference the top of this list, always an “I love you” and always a hug.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thanks. And, I love you, too.