Learning From My Father

If I were to sum up my father in one sentence it would be this:

He’s planned out where he’ll spend Thanksgiving through the year 2017.

That tells you a lot about my father. He’s incredibly organized, and he likes to plan out his days, weeks and holidays. He flies to Seattle a few times each year, and I look forward to the phone call the night before where he shares the flight details with me. He not only tells me his arrival time and airline choice, but he shares with me his seat assignment, plane make and model, weather forecast (Salt Lake City and Seattle) and whether he’ll be served a snack or full dinner.

This level of detail and organization didn’t always translate well to the habits of a young boy. My father liked to get up early each morning and accomplish a lot of  before noon. His schedule was front loaded while mine was back loaded. There were times I wanted to mow the lawn or weed the garden later in the day when shade appeared. That didn’t always go over well with my dad.

But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate my father’s way of organizing his life, and I believe he’s able to appreciate mine. I could not keep his schedule, and he could not keep mine. That’s OK.

I’m more spontaneous. I don’t plan out as many elements of my day as my father does. I’m certain some of our differences are generational. My father spent over 30 years teaching in the same school district. I can hardly imagine spending 3 years in the same job. My father is the loyal, life-long employee and I’m the nomadic free agent.

As I help raise our children, I wonder which of my traits I will pass on to them. I also wonder which ones they’ll wish had fallen off the family tree.

One of my father’s best traits today is one I don’t remember him exercising very often for the first 20 years of my life: telling his children how much he loves them. This is something I’m trying to do more of although it comes more naturally with my daughters. I don’t know why.

Tonight, when I tucked Lincoln into bed, I kissed him on the forehead and told him I loved him without giving much thought to it. As I got up to leave he asked:

“Dad, why do you tell me you love me every day?”

“Because I don’t want you to forget”

He giggled a few times and, although it was dark, I could see a smile stretch across his face.

I think my dad would have been proud.

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