Today’s my dad’s birthday, but I’m not writing this just because I didn’t buy him a present.
My dad has taught me the most about the art of living, and even though I think I’m grown up, he continues to teach me how to be a better father and how to be happy.
My dad never ever lectured me. In fact, every time he tried to tell us a story, we couldn’t resist asking him to get on with it. So he didn’t bother giving me the talk about the birds and the bees. Instead, Mom and Dad left adequate reading material in the house, and I didn’t have any questions left to ask.
Dad did teach me the manly arts of changing tires, putting on chains, replacing engine oil, using every tool in the workshop and doing the yard work, but he taught me the most important things by example.
My dad only made me feel guilty by being the better man. When my son put a dent in my car, I couldn’t allow myself to get mad, because when I rolled and totaled my first car, all my dad cared about was that my girlfriend and I were alright.
When my kids need my help at an inconvenient time, I never complain because Dad never did.
Be present for your wife and family. Growing up, I always knew where my dad was. He was either at his office or at home. He was never out with the boys. He didn’t drink, smoke, gamble or do anything he wouldn’t want us to do.
He did everything with us. He was always available to talk or to help. He would drop everything to give us a ride.
Live according to your values. My dad always said what he meant. He would ask us to return things he didn’t need. This made him the hardest person for whom to buy a present, but we’d always know the truth.
My parents didn’t tell me to what to do for a living. They just wanted us to do honest work.
Enjoy the simple pleasures in life. My dad continued to enjoy fireworks, parades and the PNE long after we became teenagers and lost interest. He still loves those simple pleasures.
My dad continues to enjoy a good meal. He still shares the details of his best meals – from 60 years ago to yesterday. He still enjoys every bite.
Don’t act your age. My dad never profiled or pigeon-holed other people. He doesn’t judge others by their age, education or appearance, and he never used age as a reason to be any different or act any different from who he is.
He told me that we should keep on working as long as we’re having fun. He still hasn’t retired.
Remember the positive. My grandfather died when my dad was a toddler. Dad grew up during the depression in the poverty of Cumberland’s Chinatown in an age of racism, but whenever he spoke of the past, there was never bitterness.
He remembers happiness: the joys of his childhood, good times with old friends, the kindness of others and his love with my mom.
Work hard but be generous. My dad worked hard. He worked to support his mom and family, to pay for his mechanics courses, and to pay for his university education. He taught us to work hard and to do our best by example.
With my mom, dad gave me a gift that he wasn’t given: a home full of music, humour, literature and love. It’s a legacy that I strive to pass on to my children.