Wisdom from My Father

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Wisdom from My Father. My father was a very misunderstood man. He was and still is “Larger than Life.” He was crazy combination of strong, belligerent, arrogant, spiritual and comforting.. a Dreamer to a fault, someone you could love & hate at the same time. He’s been gone over 4 yrs now. I wasn’t allowed to have velcro sneakers until I could tie my own laces. He made me learn to paint my own bedroom at 8 yrs old because i wanted a new color (with his help). He insisted I learn to change my own oil, check my fluids & change a tire before I got my own car. I had to learn to order both chinese & pizza as well as schedule my own doctor’s appointments. He taught me to be able to check a fuse box & unclog a toilet. I can spackle like nobody’s business, the key is to wet sand! I grew up on job sites where his idea of keeping me busy was to move rock piles with a front end loader on my own at 7 yrs old. He taught me that everything was up for negotiation & to stick to my guns. Accept responsibility & the consequences of my decisions. I was named the “Komatsu Kid” in 1986 & lost an endorsement deal to be the poster child for Komatsu, “so simple a child could operate it.” They saw me in the pit on my dad’s lap at a heavy equipment convention. I wouldn’t sign unless they bought my mother a new jeep cherokee. I was 6 years old. It was mandatory to scrape & paint the boat every year, but the color was my choice. I learned to drive a car at 12. I got my boaters license at 13. It was the most important thing to my father that I be independent and self sufficient. I had to learn how to make “gravy” without burning the bottom of the pot (Tomato sauce to you non- Italians.) He got a kick out of his kid doing the same things he had done as a child, his pride especially centered around the fact that I was his daughter. He told me that our dogs were my brother & sister in fur coats. If i were ever in trouble to call. He would come get me no questions asked, this also went for my friends & boyfriends (the same boys that he purposely sharpened knives around when he first met them). There were days when I hated him for making me get dirty, I was the toughest, sparkliest girl you could find. He said to me when I was 17 that I had a choice to make. He would either pay for my college education or a wedding, but some form of higher education was mandatory. He continued by telling me that there were going to be so many things in this life that could & would be taken away from me. But nobody could ever take an education or a dream from me. He told me that if I chose to have him pay for my education he would do anything possible for me to go anywhere in the world I wanted to go. He was determined that I never have to depend on a man to take care of me or my children. He told me that if I chose to be dependent on a man, that was fine, so long as I had the skills to provide for myself & family if need be. He taught me that you work hard & you work smart. (he wasn’t always the best example of this) but he taught me to learn from his mistakes. He was so proud when I landed an interview with Princeton University. (Luckily I didn’t get in! Who needs that pressure & debt) I graduated from Stockton with honors and my dad was so proud he brought a bouquet of flowers that took up it’s own seat and an air horn to my graduation (he was also the guy who blew the air horn at field hockey games.) I had chosen for him to pay for my education but, I ended up paying for most of it on my own through working at companies that offered tuition reimbursement & scholarships. He taught me that sometimes rules are made to be broken and it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission when you dare to take a chance. When my first wedding day came, we pulled up to the church, I had my first ever panic attack, one of 2 in my life. My father looked at me and said, “Sweetie, you don’t have to do this. You just nod your head and I will have this limo turned around and we will just drive away. I don’t care who’s inside that church or how much money we paid, this is the rest of your life.” (he did end up paying for my wedding after all.) Ultimately I’m glad I walked down that isle, because I walked it with him. He broke rules all the time, prime example is he lit up a cuban cigar at the head table of my wedding in the Holiday inn. When I told him I was getting divorced, he wrote me a poem called “The Magic House.” It was about how I could always come back home. My father taught me that If you have a man in your life who breaks his back all day and comes home exhausted or in pain, you help him take his boots off. If you have a man who works outside, a beard protects & insulates his face from the elements, don’t force a man to shave his face. If you have a man who does manual labor, understand that it’s better to not wear a ring to work as many men lose their fingers with equipment malfunctions when rings get caught. It’s as if he were preparing me for my amazing man George (who loves my crazy independence & has all of my dad’s beautiful character traits without the arrogance) I know to respect my sweetie by taking his boots off, not making him wear his ring during the day & not nagging him about his beard. The second panic attack I ever had was the day I got a call from a hospital telling me my father had died, I was the first to know. He’s clearly not gone though, as his Essence & Wisdom shine on.The most interesting thing about this is that he didn’t want me to grow up too fast. Crazy how he achieved both goals together. These are simple lessons from a very complex man. I miss you Joe “Daddy-O”! You are still larger than life to me.


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