On May 25, 2017, my Dad climbed the stairs to heaven. He lived an amazing life full of struggles, tragedy, happiness and simple adventures. In honoring his life, I want to share 10 things I was taught or witnessed from him.
Be Strong and Have No Fear – My Dad was not afraid of anyone. I remember when I was 10 and someone threw my brother’s bike into the lake. My Dad was taking the boat off the lake and my brother noticed the truck of the guy who threw his bike in the lake at the restaurant/bar. My Dad told us to follow him and we went storming in right past 15 members of a motorcycle club all in black leather. He told my brother to point out the guy and he confronted him and eventually got the police there. He was brave and a little unwise in rushing in, but he did this for his love of his sons. I think we can all step out of our comfort zones now and then.
Be in the Moment and Have Courage – Whenever my Dad saw his grandkids, he would do his best to hide his pain and discomfort over the last two years. The four grandkids brought my Dad great joy and love. When one of them came in the room or talked to him on the phone, he would smile and perk up for that time. He loved the four of them unconditionally. He taught me to be there in the moment no matter what else was going on. He also showed me courage in the face of illness and disabilities. Everyone has illnesses and discomfort at times, but taking moments to enjoy life is important.
Laugh at Yourself – One day Dad was with me and the grandkids as we were running to get some things at different stores. When we were pulling into Stop and Shop a few years back, the kids were asking about middle names. I told them my middle name, but they needed to guess their Poppy’s. They asked for a hint and we told them it started with an “L”. Tegan, with all the seriousness of a 4 or 5-year-old, blurts out LEMONHEAD. I don’t think we stopped laughing for 5 minutes. No matter what the grandkids did or said about Poppy he laughed and never took it seriously. I think we could all lighten up and enjoy life.
Be Dedicated – My Dad was dedicated to his work and career. He was at Northeast Utilities for 40 years and barely missed a day. He would get up every morning and leave the house around 5 am and not return most nights until 6 pm. He cared for the men he was in charge of and made sure they were doing well and taken care of at work. Even when he was ill or feeling under the weather he would make it to work and make sure his job was done. I try and apply the same work ethic to my career and work. While many of us won’t be able to commit to one company, we can definitely apply the dedication to our career and to the people we work with.
Be on Time – My Dad was never late for his work commitments. No matter what the weather or how his was feeling, he would be at work. He made it point to be where he was supposed to be. I remember him telling me that your reputation is built on the impression you leave people. I always try to be early to work and family obligations. I have tried to pass this onto my children. We only get one chance to make a first impression. How was the last impression you left?
Enjoy Family – My Dad cared for his family. Since my brother and I had children, he made it a point and purpose in his life to be there for us and the grandchildren. He would do anything for us. I remember when my Dad was quite ill, he came over to say hi and limped into the backyard. My daughter asked Poppy to jump rope with her. He obliged and got a rope from his truck and tied it to the tailgate so they could swing the rope and she could jump in the middle. He always took time for his grandchildren and loved be around them and us. How many times have you seen your family recently? Make time to see your family and enjoy some simple moments that will last a lifetime.
Know What You Want and Act on It – My Dad and his brother, Barry, would take many adventures each week and find some place to eat. The first few times my uncle would get in the truck, my Dad would ask him – “where do you want to eat?” My uncle would respond with “how about the lucky cup restaurant because I liked the hash browns when we were there”. My Dad would respond “we were just there 2 weeks ago. I got a better place”. This happened a couple of times until my uncle realized that he had no say in the matter. He started answering the question with “wherever you want to go is just fine”. My Dad always knew what he wanted in life and acted on it. He tried to be kind, but he needed to do what was right for him. How many of us have acted on things we wanted? If you haven’t done this in a few weeks, think of one thing you want and take action.
I hope you have learned a little about my Dad and some things that guided him in his life. I am proud to say I am his son and wanted to honor him with this article. Take time today and reflect on the ways your father helped you start living the good life.
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