Every son and every daughter remembers the sage advice their father had said to them as a child. At the time dear ole dad was speaking words of wisdom, sons and daughters thought it was just fathers getting on their cases. As the years have passed and yesterdays children are todays adults, sons and daughters have discovered that those pearls from dad have more truth to them than anyone realized back in the day.
My dad’s longest lasting gift he ever gave to me was his words of wisdom.
From birth, throughout my childhood, my teenage years and through my adult life (until his death in 2017) my father gave me many gifts. 3 houses to grow up in. The safe neighborhoods to live in. He made sure all my medical bills were paid as a child. Not to mention the countless gifts he gave me for birthdays, Christmas, graduation and just because. Of all the gifts he has ever given me, the one that keeps on giving are the words of wisdom he said to me.
As a child and as a teenager, I had a thick head. This resulted in my dad needing to repeat his words of wisdom to me multiple times. At the time I thought of them as my dad getting on my case. As I reflect back on years that have gone by, it turns ot that much of his advice has either turned out to be true and/or is still guiding my life today.
The best years of your life will be the 4 years you spend in high school.
It was the summer before I was to enter Hazelwood Central High School back in 1980 something. I was in my bedroom, getting ready to go to bed for the night, My father came in and said “you are about to start the best 4 years of your life.” I suppose I had a confused look on my face which lead him to explain “You will have some of the best experiences in your life in the coming years.”
At the time I was shocked. Usually when my father talked to me about school it was about my grades and how much I needed to work on improving them. Or it was a conversation about my most recent visit to the principal’s office.
As I recall my high school years, although during the time they were difficult and sometimes awkward, my dad was right! They were the 4 best years of my pre-adult life.
If you can count the number of true friends on one hand, then you are lucky!
Like most teenagers, I was obsessed with being popular and making friends. Both had always been a challenge for me. I had always struggled with social skills which made it hard for me to make friends and impossible for me to be anywhere close to being popular.
I suppose I became more obsessed with the quantity of friends than the quality of the friendships I was striving to create.
My dad would tell me more times than I care to remember, “When you get to my age (he was in his mid-forties) if you can count the number of real friends – true friends who will be there when you need them – you have on one hand, then you are lucky!”
I am past my mid-forties. I have learned over the years that as you age the number of friends drastically drops from when you graduate from high school until you celebrate your 50th birthday. Sadly, it is sometimes harder to make friends when you are older. The close friends I have today are a few. My dad was right, I can count my close friends on one hand and I feel both lucky and blessed to have them in my life.
I have more respect for a person who stands up for what he believes in, even if he is wrong, than I have for a person who goes along with the crowd because it is the easiest thing to do.
As a kid this was my favorite piece of advice that came out of my dad’s mouth.
When I was young, I fought authority and authority always won (sounds like a 80’s song by John Mellencamp.) I liked to be a trail blazer. I didn’t want to be a follower, I wanted to be a leader, to be a person who marched to the beat of his own drum.
At first, I misunderstood dad’s advice. I took it as if dad approved of my breaking rules and defying my teachers. I was wrong. What dad meant is if someone stands up for what he believes in (a value, a opinion, etc.) even if that person is wrong but still has the guts not to follow the crowd, my dad respected that person.
To this day this piece of advice from my dad guides my life. I make all my decisions based on what I believe to be right, regardless of what the popular opinion may be on the subject. Sometimes I am wrong, but I have never taken the easy way and follow the crowd. I am my own man.