Amy came along last winter as we were talking snow days.
She first commented on my post There are No Days Like Snow Days, and told the story of how she isn’t usually a big fan of the flaky white stuff. But that during a recent storm, she couldn’t help herself – she pulled off her glove and snapped a picture.
Amy, of the wonderful blog Long Drive Journey, stuck around throughout the summer and into fall. She’s contributed to our six-words posts.
Who is she? She’s a writer about half my age. In pursuit of her PhD, she already has learned a lesson that will carry her far life – that life is more about the journey than the destination. She’s written excellent posts on raw beauty, healthy living, and my favorite, How to Be a Blogger Without a Baby, Dog, or Significant Other.
Today, she’s on the CD to talk about her dad. Her dad stories, to be specific, and lessons learned from the man. I’m a big fan of dads around here. Please give Amy a warm welcome, and be sure to check out her blog, too.
My dad loves to tell stories. He talks to friends and to strangers, and he tells his stories to anyone who will listen (and sometimes to my mom and me even when we aren’t listening). By far, his favorite story to tell is about me. The gist of it is that when I was 2, I told him that my mind and my mother’s mind were the same, but his mind? His mind was incredibly different.
Although my dad’s stories feel like an old sweatshirt by this point, something that feels comfortable the minute you put it on, even if it has a few holes in the armpit, I find that I can still learn something from them each time my dad gives a new account. Here are some of the things those stories have taught me:
1. Always stand up for yourself, because there are times when your self-respect is all you have. My dad is, and will always be, a laborer by trade. He is one of the smartest people I know, and probably could have been a mathematician if he’d tried, but he never finished college and prefers working with his hands over sitting at a desk. He also grew up in the south. Many of his stories have included cashiers who wouldn’t wait on him or jobs that passed him over not because he was weak, but because he was black. My father’s experience living this life is something I (thankfully) cannot understand. In fact, he has made it his life’s work to give me all the opportunities that I need so that I would never have to understand. I can’t think of many people that I respect more because he has always respected himself.
2. A cookie after dinner is always a good thing. Less from a story and more from experience, my dad never ends a day without dessert. He has perfected the art of cookie making, ensuring that they’re always the perfect amount of gooey, chocolatey, and good. My dad thinks life is too short not to finish your day with some sweets, and his waistline might suffer, but he makes me believe it’s good for the soul.
3. It’s okay to cry. My dad is NOT an emotional man, so I’ll never forget the time my mom went out of town and he sat down to watch a movie with me. It was something sad where the main character fell into a coma and the love of her life sat by her bed. When she woke up, I saw my dad hastily wipe a tear from his eyes. Fifteen years later, I still remember that moment.
4. Finish school. One of my father’s biggest regrets is that he didn’t finish college. Some of the best advice that he ever gave me was to follow my dreams (and then to bring my butt upstairs and hit the books). I’m now headed off to get my PhD, so I think he did good.
5. Never, ever, ever give up. Because he never has.
My dad and I don’t always see eye to eye. Our minds probably are about as different as I described when I was 2. Sometimes it feels like we live in two different worlds, and both of us have to board spaceships to meet somewhere in the middle. But then I realize that my dad gave me my gumption and my guts. He gave me my nose and my ability to kill bugs without having to call a man to do it for me. He gave me strength and courage and assurance. And he gave them all to me through his stories.
So talk on, dad. I guess I was listening.
Amy is the voice behind Long Drive Journey, where she blogs about life in transition and all of the crazy things that go along with it. Although her heart resides in Louisiana, Amy is currently living in Chicago, IL. She loves writing, but does find it difficult to do so in the third person. Connect with me – err, Amy, on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.