As Father’s day approaches, I can’t help but reflect on my life, without a father. My dad passed away from cancer when I was 11. Now, 11 years with a good, loving father is a lot more than some people get, and for that I’m thankful. 11 years is long enough to form lasting memories. It’s long enough to have experienced birthday parties, family vacations, and rituals that were solely father-daughter. But it’s not long enough. Maybe we can argue that we never have enough time with our parents, that no matter when they pass on, we’ll still be demanding more time, more moments together, more lessons to learn.
I can tell you that 11 years was not long enough to have my father walk me down the aisle. It wasn’t long enough for him to have met my husband, or to have held my daughter. It wasn’t long enough to have helped me learn to drive, taught me to play bridge, or to have shared an adult beverage.
I grew quite bitter about this. I hated attending weddings and watching other girls getting to dance with their fathers. I hated the move-in day at College and then every annual move thereafter. There is something about transporting furniture, strategically packing up moving trucks, setting up internet routers and scouring landlord contracts that is uniquely reserved for dads, and I hated every minute of it.
For years, I felt royally screwed. It was missing out on life lessons that made me the most jealous. I wanted so desperately to know how my father felt politically. Was he conservative? Liberal? Somewhere in between? Was he religious? Atheist? Indifferent? And why? What advice would he have given me when I was picking out a major of study? When I told him I was in love? When I told him I was expecting a daughter of my own?
As I got older, I’d often hear my friends passing on bits of advice they had gotten from their fathers. Things like how they needed to start their investment portfolios ASAP. Or if you were driving on ice, you should not accelerate, or brake suddenly. Just maintain your speed and give yourself lots of time to brake.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I had learned an important lesson from my father. Something spectacularly important. Something that has changed my attitude, my philosophy, and my entire life. Something so important that I can’t wait to pass on my child.
My father taught me that life is short. He taught me that our legacy matters. Don’t wait to do the things you love.
So marry the boy that makes your heart flutter and your lungs forget to breathe. Quit that job you hate. Don’t wait for retirement to do the things that make you come alive. Follow your passion.