things i know (that stoob and dad taught me)

a few nights ago at work, i found myself in a conversation with a younger fellow who told me he recently lost his dad. what was great about it was this: when remembering his dad, he focused solely on the great memories of him. he talked about the fishing trips they took, how his dad taught him how to wrench on cars, and how his dad gave him everything he needed to know to be a good man.

not surprisingly, this got me thinking about my parents and all i’ve experienced and learned from them. i’d be a liar if i said i wasn’t who i am today because of my mom and dad. i can’t remember a time they weren’t there with a helping hand or a kind word of encouragement. my morals, my kindness, my steadfast belief in treating every human being with dignity and respect – it all came from them. and even now, two months shy of my 34th birthday, i still find myself learning from them. i owe them so much.

while there are way too many to list here, i thought to share a few things that always come to mind when talking about my parents and the things i can easily recall them teaching me along the way:

lesson #1 (from dad): everything in moderation

from political beliefs to training for triathlons to sugar on my cereal as a kid – i can’t remember a time my dad didn’t share this little nugget with me, and as much as i sometimes didn’t want to hear it, i knew he was right no matter what he was telling me to apply it to. we often get so caught up in things, and can fall out of balance so quickly. it’s only when we can bring things back to moderation that things just seem to work without snag or struggle.

lesson #2 (again, from dad): many hands make light work

i can’t remember a time when we were doing some sort of work around the farm i grew up on that i didn’t hear my dad say this. sometimes it drove me nuts; other times i loved hearing it. and while it’s commonplace in the world of old sayings, it still remains one of my favorites. while i realize it usually applies to things like manual labor, cooking, and other hands on work, i’ve grown to know it applies to our day to day lives as well. life is tough, and going it alone is so much harder. sharing life’s load with a special someone or a group of pals makes it so much easier, so much more enjoyable, so much better.

lesson #3 (from Stoob): keep that thing in your pants

not a whole lot of explanation needed here, really. i think she told me this around 8th grade or so, and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

lesson #4 (from Stoob): things could always be worse

Stoob said this often during her chemo. and every time, i had to look away or go get a snack from the cafeteria – anything to not be there for her to see me tear up. to watch my mom go through the hell of weekly chemo, loose her hair, feel sick and weak way more than she felt not sick and not weak, all after having a double mastectomy – and yet she could still focus on the good things in her life: family, friends, a non-terminal diagnosis. there hasn’t been a time since then i’ve gotten too bothered with something gone wrong in my life or too low that recalling her saying those words hasn’t helped turn things back straight.

lesson #5 (from both): whatever you choose to do, we still love you and are proud of you

it’s probably no secret i haven’t lived the most traditional life, and i’ve found myself traveling down a few different paths thus far in my life. but through it all, my parents have supported me without fail. things change. feelings change. our beliefs may shift, and interests sometimes morph into new interests daily. it’s realizing that those changes are a perfectly acceptable result of personal growth, that embracing those changes with acceptance and love is what’s important. that’s the lesson there, and something my parents have done so superbly with me in all i’ve done. i hope someday i’m able to accept and show compassion to others even half as much as they are able to. i really do.

it may have taken a random conversation with a total stranger to spark this entry, but my parents are never far from my mind. and while i may find myself shaking my head after hearing dad repeat one of his one-liners yet again (or worse: after hearing myself say one to someone younger than myself), it always brings a bit of warmth to by chest. they’re so true, so applicable to life, and have shaped me in ways i’ll never be able to express the gratitude for.

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