Life Lessons from my Dad

A year ago this month, my brother and I lost our father. Our dad was a good one. We always knew he loved us. But now, as I think back, I’ve been realizing all the things he taught us. I’ll forever think of them as “Life Lessons from Dad”.

Kids Deserve Unconditional Love:

My brother and I were regular kids. We went to school, hung out with our friends, and like every other kid, made mistakes. Sometimes, even as we grew up, we made conscious decisions that were colossally stupid. It never mattered. The one thing we could always count on was that Dad loved us without judgment. It was a wonderful, safe feeling.

I've made more dumb decisions in life than I care to admit. It wasn't that our father condoned them, but there was never a question of his love.
Photo by Steven Myers of me on an outing with him circa 1978

Show Up:

Our dad was a quiet man (unless you got him one on one). That was ok. He walked the walk. He always showed up. Recitals, ball games, surgeries - you name it, Dad was there. I don’t think we ever doubted the fact that we were important to him.

Dad always showed up (and took pics!) He took this photo of my brother and sister-in-law fishing on the Florida Coast.
Photo by Steven Myers

Don’t Miss an Opportunity:

My father told me a story about going to see one of his close friends at the hospital right before the man passed away. Dad explained his regret after the friend was gone. He told me, “I should have hugged him and told him I loved him. You never know when it’s going to be the last time you can tell someone that. That was my chance.” That resonated with me. I spent the last two weeks of my father’s life with him, and I made sure to tell him (and show him) exactly how much he meant to me.

Never miss an opportunity. My dad thought the most important thing in his life was to make sure that my brother and I saw each other as often as possible (we're 16 years apart in age!). Dad made sure to foster us seeing each other whenever we wanted to.
Photo by Steven Myers (Me, my brother, and my brother's kids)

Be Humble:

Dad never exactly told us to be humble. He just modeled it. He was a Veteran, but brushed off anyone’s thank you for his service. He was charitable, and very quiet about it. He spent years in a band, working alongside some famous people. He didn’t speak about it though. He was just Dad, and that was his job.

Our Dad served in Germany during the Vietnam War, but seemed rather surprised by receiving VA health benefits. "I didn't do anything to deserve it," he always said. Humble - that was our dad. 
Photo by Steven Myers (of my mother in St. Avold, France)

Bonus Days:

My father once told me that he was always surprised that he had lived past the age of 30. As such, he considered every day he woke up to be a “bonus day”. He said, “You just have to decide what you’re going to do with it”.  I’m still working on this one. The day to day grind can get to all of us, so I am trying very hard to make my dad proud and make each day count.

Our dad spent a good many of his bonus days photographing sunsets.
Photo by Steven Myers 
November, 2011

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