I’m fond of saying that I don’t have a father. I have a Dad.
Dad taught me so many things: how to fish, how to handle firearms safely and how to shoot them, how to build and repair things around the house. He taught me to appreciate the outdoors, how to drive a car, and how to smoke a pipe. Oddly enough, he never taught me how to shave or to tie a tie–those I picked up on my own.
But those are skills, and it was in the less tangible things that Dad really excelled. He taught me that no job was beneath me–yes, I may have had a university education from one of Canada’s finest universities, but if the economy tanked and no high-tech companies were hiring people like me, and the only job I could get was working in a warehouse or driving a truck or doing some other blue-collar job, I should take it and be glad to have it. I’d meet some great people and learn some different skills and have a new appreciation for the folks who work so the rest of us could live a little easier. He spoke from experience, and I was glad of the lesson when a few layoffs had me applying for warehouse jobs and learning to drive a truck, among other things. Such jobs kept the rent paid and food on the table, and I did meet some great people. I still keep in touch with some of them to this day.
Perhaps because he had worked in so many places and with so many people, he taught me tolerance. I never heard my Dad say a bad word about anybody based on something they couldn’t change. He knew, and was friends with, people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and so on. From him, I saw that they were just people. He always looked for the good in each one, and usually found it–sometimes he couldn’t, but it wasn’t because they were black or Jewish or gay or whatever; it was because there wasn’t any good to be found. He judged people on their own merits, not on any preconceived notions of how they were supposed to be because they were part of a certain group. He taught me to do the same.
He taught me the value of education. Oh, formal education was a good thing, but I was to remember that there was a learning experience in everything. Education doesn’t stop because you’ve graduated from a school. Be curious. Ask questions. If no answers are forthcoming, find them yourself. There a big world out there with so much to teach you–go learn from it. You’re never too old to learn.
We’ve had our bad times and our fights and arguments. It hasn’t always been a smooth relationship; there have been times when I’ve felt ignored or forgotten by him. But overall, he’s a pretty good guy. Any man can be a father, but I got lucky. I have a Dad.