Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lessons from My Dad {tell them you love them}

When Jake and I were dating, he'd say something very sweet and thoughtful.  And I would want to puke.

I was not an emotional, touchy-feely person.  After Jake and I got married, I changed.  Now I embrace that sugary-sweet side of him, and I appreciate those traits of his that don't come quite so naturally to me.

My dad always, always, always said 'I love you'.  After every phone call - even if he was just calling to say he was on his way home from the store.  Every night before bed.  Always, always, always.

Those words were always on the tip of his tongue.  He gave hugs freely.

My mom and I - not so much.

Maybe this was partly because it sometimes felt like overkill.

Maybe it was partly because, at times, we questioned if he really did love us.  But we knew that he wanted to love us.  And he tried to love us well.

Truth be told, he did love us the best that he could, even if it didn't always feel like it.

And maybe his freeness in saying those 3 words was born from a knowledge that he wasn't always great at showing his love, but he could tell us about it.

So maybe this is the lesson to be learned: If you love someone, tell them.  If you feel you might have hurt someone, tell them.  If you wish you could be better, tell them.  If you're sorry, tell them.  If you're trying, tell them.  Just tell them.

But offer those words when you mean them.  Don't hesitate.  You're not a 'lovey' person?  It doesn't matter.  If you love someone, tell them.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Just tell them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lessons from My Dad {work your ass off, and play hard}

Yes, I said ass.  And now I've said it again.  Because my dad would have.

{Let's break for a story.  I'll never forget the time my mom found a secret page in my notebook.  I scratched the word 'asinine' in big dark letters.  I was in big trouble.  When my mom asked me where I heard that word, I told her that my dad used it when he was looking for his 'asinine shoes'.  That day, I felt awful.  Today, I laugh.}

Back to the lesson.

(See what I did there?  Now I didn't actually use the word.  My husband just let a sigh of relief.)  

My dad was always a hard worker, for as long as I can remember.  I could count his sick days from my entire childhood on one hand.  Or maybe even one finger.  

Our 'fun' days on the weekends were spent doing yard work or doing household projects.  My mom would be raking, my dad would be working on the pond (we had a big pond in our yard, which was beautifully landscaped in it's glory days) - and I'd be grumbling away, silently cursing under my breath each time I'd bend to pick up a stick.  My mom would pause, wave to my dad, look to the sky, and say something ridiculous and cruel like "Isn't this fun?!".  She really meant it.

Working hard wasn't a chore, it was a choice.  And they both enjoyed working hard together.  All while their snarling darling worked alongside them.


I'd like to think that today, after all those years of grumbling through it, I might be a sort-of-hard-worker.  Maybe I'm getting there.  Or maybe I have a busy 5 year old that sometimes takes precedence. Or maybe my standard for what a hard-worker looks like was set way too high.  Or maybe I'm just a lazy only child.

Either way, I see the value in a hard days work, done without 'pissing and moaning' (one of my dad's favorite go-to phrases) :)


My dad loved a good vacation.

The Bahamas, Maui (x3!), Mexico, Disney, the much as he valued a hard days work, he valued time away.  With his girls.  Unplugged.  He worked hard, and this was his gift to himself, and to us.

On vacation, our wish was his command.  Want a whopper from Burger King at 11pm?  Awesome!  Eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  Done!  You said you really need that touristy trinket-y piece of junk?  It's yours!  Daddy, I could really go for a $9 smoothie...?  Good, so could I, Ash.

Our family knows how to vacation.  Thankfully, I married a man who also understands this.  Going on vacation to make meals and do laundry and live boringly is just so very wrong.

 December 2005 - BABIES, I tell ya!
I left the date on so I could rub in your faces that we spent Christmas & New Years Eve 2005 in Maui...
Don't hate me.

But playing hard goes beyond the 7 days of a family vacation.

It looked like a dad who would turn up the music and jam with middle school girls on the way home from the movie theater at 10pm.  Or making (delicious, juicy, grilled-to-perfection) steaks on a Tuesday night, because he felt like it.  Or taking your nephew to an arcade and spending a whole Saturday morning goofing off with him.  Or spending the perfect summer evening on the porch, listening to the wind blow through the trees.

These are important things.  And my dad always made time.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Work your ass off, and play hard.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Lessons from My Dad.

On Valentines Day, I'll be remembering my dad's life, as it will be one year since he died.

'Died' seems so cold.  So far removed.  And I guess that's exactly what death is.

Death is so final, except it's not.

{It's not.}

My dad died alone, in more ways than one.  It's something I will always feel sad about.  His life was gone in a single breath without an ounce of warning.  At least people with fatal illnesses have family surrounding them when they go from this life to the next.

Not my dad.  He was alone, and nobody knows what happened in his final hours on this earth.

Well, no one, except Someone.

I suppose that while fatal illness brings some families together, mental illness divides and isolates.

It wasn't all bad, though.  I'm choosing to remember the good.  Sometimes even forcing myself.

I read a quote recently that said "Someone I love once gave me a box full of darkness.  It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift."

His life is worth remembering.  I have to believe that there was a purpose in the good, and the bad.  It's made me who I am, yes.  But it can't just be for me.  There has to be more purpose than just shaping me.  What that purpose is, I don't know.  So I'll just share.

For the rest of this month, I'm going to document the good.  For me.  For my dad.  For my family.  For future generations.  Maybe even for you.

It's taken me a year to get here.  Join me.

One Thing I Know For Sure: This, too, is a gift.

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