Seven Everythings I’ve Learned from My Dad

Eating ice cream. Circa 1984.

Eating ice cream with my dad. Circa 1984.

I’m starting a series called “Seven Everythings I’ve Learned.”  Here I’ll feature seven “everythings” {because . . . blog name}  I’ve learned from various people and experiences.  I’ll also feature guests posts from people I find intriguing.   I figured since Father’s Day is today, it was only fitting for my first post in this category to be what I’ve learned from my dad.

I don’t remember my father ever sitting me down and saying, “Courtney, when you grow up, you need to do X, Y, and Z.”  Rachel Cruze teaches when it comes to parenting, “more is caught than taught,” and that is exactly how it’s been with Papa Jack.  He never had to sit me down and have such talks—he was teaching me by my observations.

1. Live Below Your Means

Daddy/Daughter dance at my wedding.

Daddy/Daughter dance at my wedding . . . that he paid for.

My dad is cheap frugal.  Every trip to the grocery store results in him asking for rain checks on discounted sold out items.  He will politely argue with cashier if he was shorted even a penny.   And I was mortified whenever he would make me scalp tickets at KU basketball games so we could get better seats on the cheap.   We never drove new cars, rarely went on vacations (other than visiting family), and the only beverage I was allowed to order at a restaurant was water.

But because my dad was a penny pincher, he was able to pay for my college and my wedding.  He has freedom to be incredibly generous.  He could buy more expensive items if he wanted, and he’d pay cash instead of going into debt. His frugal ways have definitely rubbed off on me as I now see myself putting his tightwad techniques into practice; they pay off in the long run.

2. Work Hard

My pops has always worked, and he’s worked hard.  When I was younger, he had numerous paper routes to put himself through college.   After an MBA, he became a business man and the head of the purchasing department at his job.   I worked in the factory at his business to make extra money in college.  I’ll never forget when an employee pulled me aside one day and said, “You know, if your father ever left this company, it would completely fall to pieces.”  I swelled up with pride at this comment—that was my daddy he was talking about.  His work had become invaluable, and when your work becomes invaluable, you gain purpose and security for you and your family.

Like father, like daughter.  At my graduation for my master's.

Like father, like daughter. At my graduation for my master’s.

3. Education is Important

I was expected to do well in school and go to college.  I wasn’t even allowed to take an easy load my senior year of high school. Before I turned in my proposed schedule, my dad made me switch everything around to take all the harder classes, dang it! Because of his high expectations, I went on to get my bachelor’s, and one of my proudest moments in life was finally being on par with my pops in degrees by attaining a master’s.  Education has stamped out the ignorance in my life and heavily molded me into the person I am today.

It wasn’t just formal education my father emphasized—it was a love for learning.  Before Google, my dad had “The Red Dictionary”–a tattered old thing that seemed to always be within arm’s reach of him.  Whenever we were uncertain about anything, we’d consult said lexicon.   Even though I am now a teacher by profession, my dad has taught me to forever be a student.

4.  Be Cool

If you surveyed 100 people who know my dad well and asked them to describe Jack in just one word, I’d bet “cool” would be used more than any other.  He’s seriously just a cool guy and I’ve never met a soul who doesn’t like him.   So . . . Be Cool = People Like You.

5. Quality Time Matters

Catching a Boston Red Sox game in Boston

Catching a Red Sox game together in Boston

Some of my favorite memories with my dad are taking road trips, attending ball games, and playing euchre.  Now that he has grandchildren, he makes it a point to spend quality time with them, too. I guarantee those memories will be more significant to them than any gift they ever receive.

6. Invest in Others

My dad was a part of a bus ministry back in the 1970s where he picked up kids for church. Through this ministry he was able to build relationships with numerous boys and become a fatherly figure.  Over the years he’d hire them to deliver newspapers, took them to Royals games, and mentored them spiritually.   He still has a close relationship with many of them, and one in particular says he wouldn’t be the man he is today if it weren’t specifically for my dad in his life. Watching this as an adolescent majorly influenced my decision to become a teacher, a teen leader at my church, and a volunteer.

7. Eat Ice Cream

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Passing on the art of eating ice cream to my kids.

I’m pretty sure there is a direct correlation between ice cream and happiness.  If my dad is visiting, you can bet there will be ice cream in our fridge.  He may even splurge and we’ll go out for some.  You don’t want to live a life full of regrets—a life without ice cream is sure to be regretful.

And . . . Mmmmmmm.  Ice cream sounds #sogood right now.  I think I’m gonna stop typing and fill a bowl.

I love you, Dad.   Thanks for the lessons.

Happy Father’s Day.

Love,

Screenshot 2015-07-26 at 11.57.14 PM

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2 thoughts on “Seven Everythings I’ve Learned from My Dad

  1. Kevin says:

    Courtney- such a beautiful piece. This is so accurate and so, so true! You know how much I loved this. To those that don’t know, I am the one that Courtney mentioned as one that Jack mentored. He is a such a special person, & was such an influence on me and still is a big part of my life. You can’t pick Father’s, but I was blessed that he picked me to spend time with, & over the years, I was blessed enough to be able to tell him he is just like a Dad to me, in some ways, even more so. Love this article Courtney, thanks for writing it, & thanks for sharing your dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen says:

    This is excellent, Courtney. I have so many fond, funny memories of your dad- and some of his old, used cars!!! But the thing that your dad did that touched me more than anything is the phone calls he made to Joe in the waning years of his life. When he could no longer get out of the house and feel worthwhile for doing work, and when everything about living was a struggle, your dad would sometimes call him and engage him in old sports memories, family stories and for that time that they were talking, he was not a dying man in a wheelchair, but just Joe talking and laughing with “Uncle Jack”. I cherish those memories and will always be grateful. (I type, as tears fill my eyes.) Thank you, Uncle Jack.

    Like

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