How can I say it, Dad?
By Stephan Drew
It’s almost Fathers Day and I haven’t even bought a card. I will before Sunday but I know that, as is usually the case, I won’t be satisfied with whatever card I purchase. How can you describe exactly how much your father means in just a few small, cute phrases? How do I tell my Dad how much his guidance has helped me throughout my life? How can I make him understand that I know and appreciate all that he went through to provide for his family and give us a better life? I would never be who I am if it weren’t for him. I wouldn’t have the knowledge base I have if he hadn’t driven me to read, study and learn. If it weren’t for my father, I would never have travelled around the world before I was even a teenager. I also would not have such an appreciation for different beliefs and such a wide variety of ideas and opinions if my father had not allowed us the opportunity to see the diverse cultures that we saw. He taught me to always keep an open mind until all the facts were in and, only then, to make a final decision. He taught me how to value everyone – whether I agree with them or not. He showed me that each of us has a story to tell, no matter how unimportant we may think it is at the time. And he did the majority of these things with a silent strength. You see, my father leads by example. He’s not big on instruction or long lectures. But, if you watch him closely, you’ll learn quite a lot. Usually a very quiet man, you’ll never hear him complain, unless he’s dealing with a very troublesome issue. He gets up every morning whistling, happy just to be alive. From time to time, it still puzzles me why he is so positive about life. He was born during the Great Depression, grew up a sharecropper’s son, and left school in the 8th grade to work on the farm. He later completed his education in the military and has been a voracious reader ever since. I learned from my father that “intelligence” and “wisdom” are totally different things – as far away from each other (and as contrasting) as the moon and the sun. Like the sun, intelligence is the light that is emitted in abundance. It is forceful, it has power and can be overbearing. The moon, however, gives off no light of its own. It reflects the light from the sun and utilizes that reflection to benefit itself and other celestial bodies nearby. Intelligence and wisdom work just like that. “Intelligence” means you know a lot of information. “Wisdom” is being able to practically apply what you know to benefit yourself and others. You can be supremely “educated”, have multiple degrees, and still not be “wise”. Yes, my Dad taught me that and much, much more. How to listen to others with a smile, even if you disagree with what they say. How to always work at something, in order to feel that you accomplished something every single day. How to care for others without expecting anything in return. How to be self-sufficient so you’ll never need to depend on anyone else. How honesty, integrity and hard work will carry you much farther than all the riches in the world. And he taught me how to show my gratitude to God for everything I have. Those millions of tiny things that help shape you and make you into a much better person are the things I thank him for. I hate it took me so long, Dad, to learn many of the things you were constantly showing me. But, since you’re reading this now, you know how much I absorbed along the way and whether all your effort was worth it. I’m so glad you’re my father. I love you with all my heart and hope to keep you here to guide me for many years to come. Happy Fathers Day, Dad!