It has taken some time to write this. Every time I think I know what to say, I stop and can go no further. But I decided the most important thing about legacy and memory is to share what I learned from my dad.
- Have ethics. I learned from my dad that life is about the choices you make. Those choices are doubly important when you think nobody is watching. Do the right thing anyway. Then you don’t have to tap-dance and make things up and look like a fool.
- Work hard. Effort that is applied towards a goal is never wasted. Work harder than the rest to be the best at what you can do.
- Have fun. Dad always took time to have fun and build memories with me. I know rollerblading probably wasn’t his favorite thing, but he came with me once and was really good at it. We capsized in the Shenandoah River once. Cold and miserable, but it was still fun. I remember being upset and riding in my brothers’ canoe afterward, leaving dad alone in the other canoe and rather unbalanced. Which leads me to the next one.
- If you fail, try again. You might still have fun. I got back in the canoe with dad and we continued the trip. And I had fun. Until recently I haven’t really hadn’t found my career path, but I tried again every time I met a dead end until I arrived at my current state. And I’ll keep on trying to be better. And I’ll keep on having fun.
- Never settle. I have yet to meet the man I want to marry. None of them have stacked up, honestly. Maybe my ideals are a little too high? That’s dad’s doing. I don’t want anyone that will treat me with less respect and love than my dad did. I refuse the idea of being with someone that can’t keep up. Standards have kept me out of trouble so far; I don’t intend to lower them.
- Be independent. It’s perfectly ok to stroll through life and enjoy every aspect of it. But, going back to #2, you have to work hard to be independent and #3 have any fun.
- Love others. Tell them that they are valued. Tell them they are loved and respected. Do what you can to show them what they mean to you.
- Be on time. Dad had an uncanny knack for being on time. Exactly. If he said he’d arrive at 12pm, the clock doesn’t reach the 12th toll before the doorbell rings. To this day, it’s my biggest pet peeve in myself and others.
- Create memories. I can’t think of many families of people I’ve met that have had such an incredible range of experiences. Not many families can say they hiked the Inca Trail, have gone skiing in the Alps, crossed the Rhine River, attended beach parties in the Pacific, stayed at a hotel in Panama during the Miss Universe pageant, gone canoeing down the Shenandoah River, and so much more.
- Stand up for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and values. And don’t be afraid to stand up for those values. Don’t be a pushover, but be fair enough to listen to others and patient enough to strive for compromise.
Dad represents many of the good things that I strive for. Since he passed, I have realized just how often I wonder what dad would say or think or counsel. Then I realized: I know the answers. I know how to find the way forward. Perhaps that is the greatest thing I learned from dad: how to think for myself and find the way forward. I will always miss you, dad. But I am so thankful for the role model you were and the blessing of 47 years of time. I will always be proud to be your daughter.