As Father’s day approaches each year, I often find myself reflecting on my life, without a father.
You see, my father 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 all our own.
But it’s not long enough.
Maybe we can argue that we never have enough time with our parents, that no matter when they die, we’ll still be demanding more time, more moments together, more lessons to learn.
I don’t know if any child truly ever has enough time with their parents, but I can tell you that 11 years was not long enough.
It wasn’t long enough to have my father walk me down the aisle. Or 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 the game of bridge, or share deep conversations about the purpose of life.
There was no hiding that I was pretty bitter about all this.
I hated attending weddings and watching other girls getting to dance with their dads.
I remember hating the day that I moved into my dorm at the Ohio State University, 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 screams “this is what a dad is supposed to do” and I hated every minute.
For years, life felt unfair. Completely, and totally unfair.
What I missed most was this feeling that I was missing out on life lessons that other kids got from their dads. I was jealous of the advice and wisdom that my friend’s dads all seemed to impart on them.
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 these bits of wisdom that they had gotten from their dads.
Things like how they needed to start their investment portfolios ASAP because of the power of compound interest.
Or they would share the advice they had been given about driving on ice – how you should not accelerate, or brake suddenly and instead 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. A lesson that has changed my attitude, my philosophy, and my entire life.
Something so exciting that I can’t wait to pass on to my child.
My father taught me that life is precious and short. He taught me that our legacy matters. That we shouldn’t wait to do the things we love.
Now is the time follow your heart.
Quit that job you hate.
Follow your passion and live your life.
Father’s Day no longer fills me with dread. It has become a vivid reminder to pause and reflect with gratitude for all the lessons I too, was given. The wisdom imparted. Of all the lessons I’ve learned over the years, I think what I learned from my father continues to be the most important.