In honor of Father's day I've been mentally tallying some of my favorite 'words of wisdom' from my father through out our travels today. So here they are, grouped by theme. To give a little background, you have to understand that my father was raised in a military family and was a military man himself.. (that will become clear momentarily).
"If you can't carry it don't pack it"
"Think for yourself, don't follow the crowd" mainly when referring to mobs moving toward an emergency exit.
"Sit facing the door, you never know when a guy with a machine gun is going to walk in"
While these seem like very different topics they all deal with Independence. Essentially teaching us not to count on other people to do things for us. Stories of mob mentality where people got injured because they followed the crowd in an emergency situations always tormented my father and he wanted to make sure we would never let a crowd make decisions for us. This obviously carries over into other aspects of life where you should think for yourself (this clearly sunk deep in me by the way I don't accept the FDA's safety decisions, I have to see if for myself). The funny part about all this is that my father was always perplexed when neither my sister or I would allow boys to pay for us when we went on dates, when this is so clearly a carry over from his lessons on Independence.
"Always leave an impression"
My father never misses an opportunity to make an impression on people. Standing in line, he is the first person to strike up a conversation with the people around him. So much so that he actually met Sean and his father in line at the bursars office when they dropped me off at college, so that Sean knew who I was before we ever met. This lesson has certainly had an impact on me. Just last night I was at Sean's high school reunion and somehow ended up in a 'dance-off' with two of Sean's friends and won "Best dancer in the CMHS class of 98". Reminder: I'm 9 months pregnant, and NOT a member of the CM class of 98! I'm still not sure how I got involved in that, but the DJ called my name and I got up and danced. Clearly I left an impression on people.
"Sit in the front row"
This is something my father told us every night before the first day of school... and while I never really wanted to sit in the front row, I always thought of my dad as I choose my seat. For me this was about "faking it until your making it" You aren't going to be the smartest kid in class if you are in the back row, and sitting in the front row won't be a guarantee that you'll understand everything but it certainly makes you a lot more likely to pay attention. This also carried over into my PhD work. Every week the department hosts seminars, and the topics are not always interesting to me. I haven't been required to go since my first or second year, but I go every week none-the-less because even if I don't think its going to be interesting there is a chance I'll learn something. Academics always want to expand their minds, and while I may not feel like an academic now, the longer I fake it, the more I feel like I am.
"The only thing that matters, is that we take care of each other"
My father has never struggled with the central idea that the most important part of any religion and philosophy is that we take care of each other. The 'golden rule' was a big deal in our house and at some point when I was about 11 of 12 this really sunk in and I started to really regret the pettiness I participated in as a young child. Simple kid stuff like picking on someone for being different, but there was a point in my life when I remember telling myself I would be intentionally mean to people anymore.
While I could go on and on I'm going to stop there and just say THANKS DAD, for imparting all this wisdom on your children. You have made me the strong, independent person I am today and I appreciate everything you did for us! No regrets, I am who I am because of everything you (and Mom) did or didn't do (including that which will not be named! =) and I'm pretty happy with who I am, even with my flaws. ;-)
I love you! Happy Father's Day!