One of my dearest friends lost her father two weeks ago and my sympathetic heart is nothing compared to the turmoil and sadness they have to live with in the aftermath of this tragedy. It’s agonizing to see them having to deal with the fact that there is a big gaping hole in their hearts. My friends are facing a future without a father, their kids lost a grandfather and their soft-spoken mother lost the love of her life.
Sitting in the memorial service, fighting back the sadness whilst facing my own mortality, thoughts drifted to both my fathers, who I am blessed to still have in my life. (Biological and in-lawed) During the service a testimony was given of a great man who loved nature, his dogs and knew how to crack a joke. A generous man who left a mark on everyone he met, especially his children. Who taught them many things, just like every other father does every day of his life. Teaching lessons to their children without even realizing that they are.
In the loving memory of JGP and all other fathers, here’s a few of the lessons my dads taught me without uttering a word:
- How to treat a woman. And not just to be a gentleman and hold a door or stand up when they join or leave the table but how to respect them. Truthfully. How to talk to them. How to appreciate them. How to love them. And accepting the truth of knowing that men will never really understand them. And more importantly, to be fine with that.
- What it means to be man. A real one, not a gun slinging, cigar smoking, mustache bearing wildling but being a person of honor and integrity. To be the kind of man who’s word is his bond. A man who actually means yes when he says “Yes”. Bottom line, a person other people can rely on and trust. A good friend.
- What it means to be married. To have an understanding that it remains a lifelong commitment. To know that it’s not going to be wine and roses all the time. Sometimes it’s beer and biltong. And other times it’s just plain water and salt. But most of the times it’s wine and roses shared with good feelings of gratitude, love and appreciation. And never having to be alone.
- To understand that money and success does not necessarily guarantee happiness. To understand that it is only means to an end. To rather focus on the important things in life like spending time with the kids or toasting a sunset or simply just do nothing and braai. Being surrounded with family and friends is something money can’t buy, special moments that are priceless.
- To know when to keep your mouth shut. The mere fact that you have an opinion doesn’t imply that you need to share that opinion at every given opportunity. Not everyone wants to hear what you think about everything, every waking moment of the day. Sometimes it’s more important to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in the same ratio. (I have to admit I’m still working on this one!)
- There are no guarantees in life. Hard work will pull you through most of the time but sometimes you just need to wing it. Follow your gut. Jump through a crack in the door. Create a little luck for yourself. Take that leap of faith.
- Age is a universal truth and no amount of creams, lotions or exercise is going to keep your body from falling apart. It’s gonna happen and it shouldn’t be something we fear. Fear won’t make it go away, it will just cause stress and stress will result in more wrinkles and grey hair, thus speeding up the process. It just means that we shouldn’t sit around and wait to get old. Accept the inevitable and live in the here and now. Enjoy the ride, seize the day, live your life to the fullest until that final moment arrives when life spews you out on the beaches of heaven.
- One can never have too much patience. It’s the glue that keeps your mind from falling apart.
- Every man needs to know how to use a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a drill, a hammer, a saw and how to change a tyre. It becomes more important these days as it might be the only thing that differentiates us from woman. That and having a pe…um…a mini-me. Besides if you don’t know how to use it, you will probably end up having to pay someone to use it for you. (I’m referring to your tools, not your mini-me.)
There are many other lessons that I’m not even aware of. Small things that I employ in my daily life, things that make me the person I am today. I am not excluding or understating the crucial role that mothers play, for that would be stupid of me. I am fully aware of the role my mothers (biological and in-lawed)have played in creating the well balanced human being I try to be.
Being a father is a huge responsibility. Ginormous. Gigantasourus. I just hope I can uphold the high standard of parenting, showcased by my own parents, as I think they did a splendid job. 😉
Let’s just remember that our kids are making mental notes of everything we say and do, or more importantly, everything we are saying and not doing.