Monday, June 25, 2012

To My Father

At church on Father's Day Sunday, this guy gave a WONDERFUL talk about all the things he's learned from his dad. It was seriously one of the best talks I've heard in a while. He talked about how while his father was by no means perfect, he would not be the man he was today without the influence of his dad. Well, in honor of both Father's Day and my dad's birthday (poor guy, these two important days always get smashed into one celebratory day) I decided to also write a list about all the things I learned from my dad.

*One of my dad's favorite pastimes is fishing. Growing up I always loved hearing stories about all his wonderful fishing adventures. I imagined him to be the modern day Tom Sawyer walking around barefoot, fishing rod resting over his shoulder, tackle box in one hand, and dog in tow right beside him. Well it wasn't long after I started walking that I started fishing. We would go out on the dock, which I'm sure felt like way out into the ocean, and we would fish for whatever we could catch.

When we moved from the beach to the mountains I'd go digging in the dirt in search of the fattest earthworms I could find in preparation for a day of fishing. We'd park the truck somewhere and hike way back into the woods and fish in little streams that no one knew about. We'd drive into town and stop at fishing stores where I'd pick out the coolest bobbers I could find for myself and pretty pink sparkling lures for my dad to use.

I even remember the day I graduated from a cane pole to real rod. We were visiting one of my dad's friend's who lived right on a lake, and I was sitting with my dad and his friend not catching a darn thing with my cane pole. I begged and begged to please try my dad's rod. Finally he gave in and on the first cast I caught the biggest catfish I'd ever seen. I couldn't even reel it in by myself. We brought that fish home, froze it, and ate it a few weeks later. After that I got my own rod.

Once in the first grade my dad was going to go fishing all night at this lake full of fish. I don't how but he convinced my mom to let me go with him. He went a few hours early and got everything set up for us, and my mom brought me by later on. There were bug zappers everywhere, but he still covered me head to toe in bug spray. We fished all night and the next morning I remember watching the sun rise, which I had never really seen before.

When we moved to Tennessee we bought a house right on the lake, and I'm sure my dad had something to do with that. We would fish all day every day during the summer. Sometimes we'd catch fish so big I'd have to back up the bank to get it out of the water. We'd catch turtles and have races.

 As I got older and moved from middle school to high school and my friends started becoming more important, fishing became less and less of a priority. But I will never forget all the memories made sitting on lawn chairs waiting for a fish to bite. To this day I still swear that's how I learned patience. You can't make a fish bite, you just have to wait, and sometimes one never does swim off with your hook in its mouth. But I learned not to get disappointed but to just keep trying. Your patience and persistence will eventually pay off. I can still hook a fish with the best of em.

* Another important lesson I learned from my dad was how to change a tire. One Friday night in high school some friends and I were driving to the football game. We had to drive through an area that was just being built up and there was lots of construction going on. Well it just so happened that I had the unfortunate luck of running over a nail. I heard this awful popping noise and immediately knew what had happened. We pulled over into the Chick-fil-a parking lot, and I called my dad. I told him what happened and asked what I should do. He said, "Just go on to the game. I'm not worried a bit about you. You know how to change a tire if you need to." And that was that. We went onto the game. After he got off the phone my mom asked what he was talking about, so he told her what happened. Well she didn't like that one bit, and they brought me another car during the game. I always love telling this story because it shows my parents' personalities perfectly.

* My dad taught me how to laugh and be silly. Everything doesn't always have to be serious and go according to plan. Sometimes you just need to make a fool out of yourself. And sometimes you just need to laugh at yourself even if no one else is laughing. It's ok to think you're funny, because you probably are.

* My dad is incredibly proud of where he's from. There's this song called "I'm From the Country" by Tracy Byrd, and every time I hear it I think of my dad.
Way back up in the country, back in the hills
Down in the hollers where the folks are real
Livin’ with the crazzies and the old wildcats
Sawed off shotguns and coonskin caps
That’s where I’m from and I’m proud to say
I’m from the country and I like it that way

Everybody knows everybody, everybody calls you friend

You don’t need an invitation, kick off your shoes come on in
Yeah, we know how to work and we know how to play
We’re from the country and we like it that way
I am proud of growing up in Tennessee sometimes to a fault. It's been a huge hassle for me to get in-state tuition for graduate school. I've had to jump through hoops and fill out petitions - all because I didn't have a Georgia driver's license. Sure, it would have made life a lot easier and less stressful getting ready for school if I had just gone down to the DMV and gotten one. But there was NO WAY I was ever going to do that. I am way too proud of my Tennessee license to give it up. I've got in-state tuition now, so there's really no reason for getting a new license at this point. :)

* The way my dad learned to swim was by some cousins throwing him off a cliff into a river. Sink or swim. Every time I heard this story I was always appalled, because of the gentle and patient nature that my father taught me to swim. From the time I could sit up by myself I was in the water - splashing around at the beach. Then when we moved to Tennessee is when I really learned to swim. Our neighborhood had a pool right up the street from our house. Every day the first summer we lived there my dad took me to the pool, and he was determined I'd know how to swim by the end of the summer. He achieved his goal, and I grew up into a girl who seriously can't get enough of the water.

 * I learned to be a competitor from a young age. If you want anything in life you have to work for it and sometimes you have to beat other people out for it. You do your best and you work hard and you never quit. I learned to run farther during soccer games, swim faster during swim meets, flip more in dive meets, hit a softball harder, and have better Halloween costumes than anyone else. I still have a pretty strong competitive edge. My sister Brittney did a nursing internship earlier this summer in Arizona. She and 12 other students/teachers were staying in a hotel for 3 weeks. They had no oven to bake in and no stove to cook on. All they had was a crock pot, an electric skillet, a George Foreman, and a dull knife. She was in charge of making dinner every Saturday. I spent hours racking my brain and researching super delicious and easy recipes for her to make with her limited tools because I wanted all the other people she was with to think she was the best cook. I wanted them to look forward to Saturdays because she was making dinner.

* I learned the importance of self-respect, I learned to be an artist, I learned the importance of an education, and I learned to savor the little moments in life - all from my dad.

There are so many other wonderful lessons I learned from my father. I'm sure there are many things I learned from him that I don't even realize. Growing up my mom would always tell me I was my father's daughter because of all the similar traits I shared with him. While I have developed into my own person now I would still say that without a shadow of a doubt I am my father's daughter. Words can't describe how thankful I am for the father I have, for all the lessons he taught me, for the person I am today because of him.

I love you dad.

Happy 50th birthday!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you Hot Rod. I love you too. I've always been so very proud of you. I remember taking you to work with me just to show you off. I still like doing that...