Not long ago, I had myself a good whine about the life skills that I didn’t learn from the females in my life.
After I published that piece, I chastised myself for wallowing in that self-pity and not acknowledging those very important things that I was taught.
I saved those important things for today.
A day called Father’s Day.
When I think of lessons learned during my youth, my first thoughts are of my Dad.
My Dad’s best talent was to teach.
If the weather was nice, Dad would be often be found tinkering on a vehicle. It only took one step out of that front door to catch his attention. “Come over here and give me a hand, ” he’d call out.
Dad would point to his tools laid on the ground and tell me to hand him the socket wrench.
He’d describe the tool and what it was used for, as my sulking brain ignited and absorbed.
Soon, Dad would have me sitting on the car frame, with the hood open, as he pointed out the various parts and what they did.
I soon learned that it took fire, fuel and air for an engine to turn over. Check the spark, check the fuel, check the air intake.
This knowledge set the basis for my learning through the remainder of my life.
Fresh out on my own, I could reason through mechanical problems and fix toilets and faucets. I could change tires and prime carburators and repair radiator hoses. I could recognize a household repair issue and see what it would take to prevent it.
I could think through the symptoms and run through a checklist of potential fixes. I was not afraid to get my hands dirty.
These skills set me apart from other females.
Give me a roll of duct tape, a standard screwdriver and a pair of pliers and I felt that I could always accomplish quick fixes. It was empowering for a young single woman, and critical for a new single mom.
Dad also taught me to push through my introverted tendencies.
At a young age, Dad would hand me the money at the gas pump and prompt me “Go pay for the gas.”
I was horrified!
Dad would give my shoulders a light squeeze and gently push me forward. “Go pay for the gas.”
With heavy steps I would approach that glass door. Each step gave me more strength and filled me with more dread. It was intimidating to face a strange adult, but it was also empowering. It did not cure my introvert tendencies, but it taught me that I wouldn’t die if I pushed past my fear.
Soon after, Dad also taught me to fill the gas tank. I would have been around twelve at the time, and it became a new goal for my younger siblings. They couldn’t wait until they could fill up the gas too!
One of the most memorable lessons was when Dad taught me to drive.
Dad had taken me on a few driving lessons, to learn the basics, before he added the younger siblings to the vehicle. Dirt roads were the driving range, and an old Jeep truck was the tool.
As we approached a corner, my siblings all seated in the bed of the truck, Dad told me to turn right. So I did. Right then and there – still 50 feet from the corner! I turned right into the ditch, kids bouncing and bobbing like popcorn in the back, as Dad exclaimed “what are you doing?!”
We quickly added communication and listening skills to the list that day.
It’s funny now, but I’ll bet those kids in the back were in fear for their lives!
The most important lessons of my life were taught by my Dad.
Dad taught me to appreciate the outdoors, and to camp and to fish.
He also taught me to clean a fish, although it’s not a skill I’ve practiced since.
He taught me to think for myself and not bow to public opinion, a critical skill I’ll never forget.
Dad taught me that pressures from others should not cause me to react or overreact.
He also taught me to be strong, to suck up the tears and get through the tough spots without breaking.
I am so thankful for Dad.
The firm but gentle teacher, always encouraging us with “you can do it – I believe in you”.
I love you Dad!
This daughter remembers.