I just spent a blessed weekend with my father for Father’s Day. What a lucky, lucky woman I am. I have always said that I totally won the Father Sweeptstakes in my life – I’m quite certain my Dad is the best father in the world. I hope you feel I’m wrong – that YOUR dad actually is.
I read somewhere once that every successful businesswoman has one thing in common – a Dad who mentored her and cheered her on. I haven’t done any formal polling, but I know when I was doing the Big-Girl Business Gig, the other women at my level all had strong connections to their dads too.
While I was in Pennsylvania this weekend, I slept like a baby. And maybe it was that baby self who, even at my advanced age, felt safe and protected in my father’s house.
I watched my dad at age 86 continue to evince the traits I so admire in him. Traits that I continue to try to emulate. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from my dad:
– “Always make the world a better place for your having been here.” – this has been both an explicit mantra of his and also something I’ve watched him do.
-“You just don’t know how life will turn out!” – this is his response to my worries about the future. He tells me that he still looks forward to getting up each day because “You just don’t know what will happen.”
– Looking on the sunny side. My father is a perpetual optimist. Oh, sometimes that has proved a tad problematical (we had to dope out that our mom was dying because he kept saying “well, this wasn’t a great day, but tomorrow will be better”) but mostly it’s the trait I admire most about my dad. He is SO positive. SO proactive. I often think it’s no wonder he was such a highly successful sales executive – who wouldn’t want to be around him?!
– Be friendly to everyone. My sister once remarked how I chatted up the checkout clerk in the grocery store. I said, you’ve obviously never gone shopping with Dad – he not only chats with the folks in the grocery store – he knows their names, the names of their kids and what’s going in their lives.
– But we all need our down time, too. From the above comment, you might think my DAd is a raving extrovert, like I am. Nope. He’s a sociable introvert and loves to come home and recharge. He’s also an early-to-bed guy and has been my whole life. That balance thing.
– Be clear, set boundaries and stick to them. Lest you think he was the coddling type 🙂 – my father warned me once about using profanity in his house during my less than respectful teenage years (my then profanity was probably “oh shit!”). The second time I found myself airborne – deposited into my room via airmail. I’m a fan of clarity – and he was way clear!
– God and family are first – everything else lines up after that. Oh there were times we thought Johnson & Johnson (his employer) might have edged up in the pecking order, but overall God and family were really the priorities. Still are. This weekend my beloved niece Julia and her husband Jeff and their 3 little kids came to visit Dad & his wife and me during my visit. Watching Dad interact with his 3 and 5-year-old great-grandsons and his 1-year-old great-granddaughter was very touching. He’s at an age where a lot of people just can’t handle little tiny kids anymore – dad went out of his way to connect with them.
So many of us reflect on what our parents DIDN’T do for us. Or the things they did that were problematical. No parent is perfect because no human is perfect. Some are, for sure, better than others. But I think all of us can search for and find things about our parents that we love and admire. Traits we see now in ourselves or our children (or wish we did).
Father’s Day isn’t the only day to thank the Dads of the world for all they do. But it’s a good day to remember how blessed we are by men who not only father children, but are Daddys, too.
So here’s to George R. Scholten, Best Dad on the Planet. And here’s to YOUR Dad (and to YOU if you are a dad!) and all the great guys out there who make such a huge impact on the world by their fathering.