One of the most important lessons I ever learned from my dad was to love people well. You love big, you love hard and you make sure your people know how loved they are. He did that well. We grew up in a home where saying I love you was said throughout the day and hugs and kisses weren’t just for bedtime. We never questioned how loved we were. It has been one of the most precious gifts my dad ever gave me and one that I live by, every single day.
My dad taught us the value of friendship and how important it is to surround yourself with precious friends. From as far back as I can remember there were always friends and family at our house. Sometimes they were invited over but lots of times they simply dropped by, knowing the door was always open. This extended to not only their friends, but mine as well, who often came by just so they could say hi to my parents (kinda rude, but whatever). I learned that a home is best filled with roaring laughter and the people you love, and that simply sharing your every day life with lifelong friends and family is one of life’s sweetest joys.
I remember when I was teenager and wanted a pair of Doc Martin sandals so badly. I asked my dad to buy them for me because they were expensive and even though I knew he could have easily just bought them for me, he made a deal that he would pay for half of them. Because while he was always willing to help us, he made sure we learned to help ourselves. Dad taught us that asking for help doesn’t make one weak, and that helping ourselves, as well as others, is not only necessary to survive, but necessary to thrive as well.
I learned about politics from my dad. He loved politics. If you’re friends with him on Facebook then you’re well aware of this since one of his favorite past times was sharing approximately 75 political posts a day. #bless My dad and I would talk politics for hours, which eventually turned into debating about them. My freshman year of college he told me “Tiffany, you’re too liberal for me” to which I replied, “Gary, you’re too conservative for me”. And that was okay. Because it was important to dad that we were our own people, with our own ideas and beliefs, even when they didn’t align with his own.
Honesty was the rule, never the exception in our home. Gary did not tolerate lying of any kind and we all knew it was better to come clean than try to lie our way out of it. Of course, it took some hard lessons to really learn this one (like the time I snuck out of the house, got caught by the cops and lied to them about where I lived – which was a very solid plan until Aimee had the nerve to climb out of the truck and gave her address to the cops) but the point is I got in as much trouble for lying as I did for sneaking out. I pride myself on being a quick study since that was really the only lesson I needed. The same cannot be said about Scott, which is neither here nor there, but I deeply value honesty because we grew up learning, and respecting, the value of it.
I learned about vulnerability from my dad. Of course I had no idea that was what he was teaching us when we were young, but now as an adult I understand. My dad was the first man I ever saw cry, and while he didn’t cry often, we learned that there was no shame in it. He let us see him fail, and he let us see him pick himself back up again. Because he allowed us to see him simply for the man he was, we learned that letting people see who we really are is the bravest way to live our lives, even when it isn’t easy to do.
These lessons my dad taught me – to love well, the importance of precious family and friends, to discover and develop the ideas and beliefs that sit well within my own soul, to be honest and to be real – have shaped me into the woman I am today. They are the foundation of my soul and they are the values I am raising my own kids with. Our dad taught us so many things, but what I realize now, is he was just teaching us how to live a rich, meaningful, extraordinary life, through very ordinary moments. Thank you, dad, for loving us all so well.