“What is the best advice your father has ever given you?” is sort of a loaded question. It’s too difficult to narrow just one piece of advice and in fact, most of the time, he wasn’t giving the advice directly – he was leading by example, setting the standard for my sister and I on how to treat people and how to carry ourselves.
This year, Father’s Day is even a little more special for my dad, not only because Grandbaby #2 is able to celebrate, but because in less than two weeks, he will be retiring after 31.5 years – it’s the last Father’s Day Weekend that he has to be back home on Sunday, in order to go to work Monday morning!
So instead of trying to single out any one thing, here are some of the little things my dad has done over the years that have been such a great influence on me growing up and how he continues to be, not only my role model, but a role model for my daughters as well:
Be prepared for the real world
In Minnesota, you play hockey. That’s just what you do and it usually starts out at an early age. The thing about playing hockey though, is that it can take a long time to get all of your equipment on; the most difficult part for young hockey players is getting your skates tied – the laces are big, the leather is stiff, and your hands are usually pretty cold. For years, my dad tied my skates because I couldn’t, but eventually it was something I would have to learn to do on my own, whether I liked it or not.
Be able to forgive
People make mistakes and I’m no exception. In fact, I’ve probably made more mistakes than I’d like to admit – but this isn’t a confessional today so I won’t digress! Anyways, whether it was setting a fishing pole on the dock in the dark that someone kicked in the lake never to be seen again or pushing the boundaries as a teenager, my dad still forgave me for my mistakes – maybe not right away, but eventually =). This is something I can always take with me and improve upon myself.
Putting others ahead of yourself, you know, sort of like acting as a fiduciary, is something that I grew up watching so many of my family members doing and my parents both continue to do so today. It’s no wonder I had felt out of place prior to starting my own firm - I had been working in an environment that didn’t require a fiduciary standard with every relationship. Volunteering to help the fundraisers for sports, towing a stranger's broken-down boat back across the lake, taking time away from work to help build with Habitat For Humanity, buying my mom flowers when he would go away on fishing trips, and even sharing his back-up generator with people he doesn't know in their neighborhood after a storm - are just a few examples!
Be honest and accountable for your actions
I don’t remember how old I was – 5 or 6 maybe – but it was at an age that I knew the difference between right and wrong and that taking something from a store without paying for it was bad. My dad and I were at a sporting goods store where I wanted to show him some rubber artificial lures I had found on a shelf. They were “so cool” but my dad wasn’t all that interested in anything, other than finishing up the shopping list. Since I couldn’t get his attention, I guess I decided to put them in my pocket to show him later at home. When my dad found out what I had done, he had me call the store to apologize for what I did, write a letter with the same, and send the “twister tails” back to the store. I have no idea if my dad ever sent the letter or the twister tails back to the store, but I’m sure the clerk at the store was more confused than anything.
Whether at work, with the family, or with his friends, my dad is the most reliable person I know. If he says he will do something, he’ll do it. With so many activities my sister and I participated in, sports, choir, you name it, between the two of us, I can’t recall any specific time that he missed anything important. Maybe a game here or there early in season or something during hunting season or a fishing trip, but nothing that wasn’t already known about and planned for. This is important to me as ever right now too, with my practice starting to take up more time and our family schedules are starting to fill up, so my family can count on me as well as my clients.
In typical fashion over the Father’s Day Weekend, he took the time out of his weekend that was supposed to be about him relaxing at the cabin with grandbabies and fishing, to finish mowing the lawn at my Grandpa’s house in Northern Minnesota. The weather was hot (my sunburnt head as proof), we lost a half day of fishing, and the bugs were awful – any normal person would push it off to another day or complain about doing it the whole time.
Well, he’s not that person – he’s our dad.
We’re all lucky to have him and I’ll be lucky to be half as good as a father myself.
Love ya dad, thanks for everything!