When my brother lost his battle with cancer last fall, he left behind a beautiful wife and two amazing children. I have done my best to be the good (although slightly crazy) uncle.
For my niece and nephew- there are somethings I know my brother would have taught you.
Life is full of important lessons. Some are taught to you by experiencing life, others through teachers. The most important teachers in your life will be your mother and father, although you won’t always realize it at the time. Your mom is a great person and will share many lessons with you. Here are some things that I have tried to teach my kids and I know your dad would have tried to teach you. (In no particular order)
Love your family – Family and friends are probably the two most important things we have in life. You have to cherish them and spend time with them, even if it means hearing the same joke twenty-one years in a row at Thanksgiving from Grandpa Bob. If you’re not careful, one day you could look around and realize that they aren’t there.
Respect for others – “Respect others and they will respect you.” It’s an old saying that doesn’t always hold true in today’s world, but never the less it is one that you should stand by. Giving people respect just because they are people is something that has been slowly lost over the generations but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Always be 10 minutes early wherever you go – One thing I have tried to teach my kids was about always being prompt which in turn makes a good first impression. When I was dating Aunt Stephanie I was invited to dinner at her mom’s house and was supposed to be there at 6:00. I arrived early to make a good impression, but instead of showing up at the door early I drove around the block for ten minutes and rang the doorbell at exactly 6:00. With the ten-minute rule last second hassles can be handled and you still get there when you need to.
Dress Nicely – Now this is a lesson that may be hard to hear from an uncle to has to wear sweats and sneakers to work. BUT- I always make sure that my sweats are clean and my clothes match (Thanks to Maddie!). A good rule of thumb is to dress well when going out (even if it is a casual affair). You don’t want to be the guy that gets snickered at for wearing the grass-stained shoes or greasy T-shirt next time you go out on the weekend. Just be careful not to overdo it. You don’t need to be wearing a suit to a bar-b-que. And when your boss says, “dress like the job you want to have” – don’t show up dressed like Batman. That only leads to counseling.
How to Drive – I can never thank our father enough for the driving lessons he gave me. Before I even was in the driver training classes Grandpa Bob took Uncle Thom and I out through some fields and let us drive around in our beat-up International Harvester pick-up. Not only did he give me good tips, but because I was so worried about making mistakes in my father’s eyes I was scared to death. After practicing in that monster for a while (bad brakes and steering do make you more careful) getting behind the wheel in front of an instructor and a pair of students was a piece of cake.
Learn to handle money – Grandpa never gave me a lot of lessons on money. He told us one thing, “save money from every paycheck.” He also showed us two others valuable tips. He handled bills and budgeting religiously every Sunday morning without fail. The bills never piled up or went unpaid and we always had the money when we really needed it. Also, he also never bought anything over $10 on a whim. If he really needed something he would consider it, research, consider it, shop around, consider it again, and then maybe buy it. But, in the end you value the item you bought more and you are sure it was something you really wanted, needed, and was worth the money.
Always be a lady or a gentleman – Whether it is helping someone across the street, holding a door open for strangers, or opening the car door, being a gentleman is a timeless quality that shouldn’t be overlooked. Grandpa was always polite in public and would hold the doors for strangers. That made a big impression on me when people would smile and say “Thank you,” for the simple gesture.
Work Hard – “If you have to work you might as well work hard while you’re there.” I think when my dad said that it also had to do with the feeling of accomplishment he felt for getting things done. Hard work gets more done, helps move you ahead in life, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, no matter what your job is.
Responsibility – You are always responsible for your actions. That was something our dad told us early one morning as we were headed camping. At that time we were parked on the side of the road while a Highway Patrol officer wrote up a speeding ticket. For some reason, that situation made it stick in my mind, him not getting mad at anyone or anything other than himself for making the mistake.
Play Hard – As the saying goes work hard, play harder. Your dad went through many different hobbies, but whatever activity he was doing when not at work, he dove into it headfirst. I think part of it was his eagerness to learn something new, but the other part had to do with the mental aspect of separating himself completely from work and having fun while doing it.
Enjoy The Little Things Your father never needed (or like) Rolex watches or elaborate vacations or fancy gadgets. In fact, the things he went crazy over are the little things – a bird in the backyard, a well-grilled steak, an IMAX movie. He can laugh for hours enjoying simple pleasures rather than surrounding himself in luxuries.
Find Some Zen One of the things your father enjoyed more than anything else was a nice hike or a run. He enjoyed the outdoors, the mountains, the ocean. Anyplace where he could escape into his daydreams.
Stand Up For Yourself A pacifist, your father is not. One thing that he did not do is let people walk all over him. He had his pride and his honor and he would want you to stand up for yourself whenever you encounter something unjust. He would want you to speak your mind, while also diplomatically picking your battles.
Love With All of Your Heart I am sure that your dad would look at you and tells you how much he loves you and I hope you can feel it just by looking into your moms eyes. I know that his whole heart is in those three little words and it means so much to me. In turn, you have been able to carry that sort of warmth and sincerity into you other relationships so that you are a true friend, and the people closest to you know how much you care about them. Your dad made sure you never need to question his love for you, for there is no time to leave people guessing about their importance to you.
Marry the person that makes you laugh on a daily basis. Who thinks you’re stunningly beautiful or handsome just the way you are. Who compromises with you. Someone who you can trust completely. Someone who you know will have your back and you will have theirs. Someone who you never speak poorly about (in or out of your head). Who not only makes your heart but your mind race. Someone who holds your hand, kisses you AND instead of complaining about the dirty dishes- just does them just as you would. *** Marry the person who you would want your children to marry.****
For you, my nephew, here are some things your dad would have taught you MAN to Man. I have always told Chase that I was not raising a boy- I was raising a Man. Here are some lessons
- Go for women you perceive as “out of your league” You’ll surprise yourself
- NEVER hit anyone unless they are an immediate threat.
- Every hat should have a purpose
- NEVER go to the movies on the first date.
- Learn to wet shave
- Nothing looks more badass than a well tailored suit
- Shave with the grain the first go around
- Exercise will make you happy. Run, Lift and Play Sports
- Always look a person in the eye when you talk to them
- Buy a plunger BEFORE you need a plunger
- Brush your teeth BEFORE you put on your tie
- A small amount of your paycheck should go directly into your savings account each month
- When you are away- CALL YOUR MOM every once and a while!
- NEVER wear a clip on tie. EVER.
- Learn to tie a Bow Tie
- Give a firm handshake
- Compliment her shoes
- Never leave a beer unfinished
- If your aren’t confident. FAKE IT. It will come
- You can tell the real size of a man by the size of the things that bother him
- Be conscious of your body language
- Guns are stupid.
- Always stand to shake someone’s hand.
- Never lend anything you can’t afford to lose
- Ask more than you answer. Everyone likes to talk about themselves
- Keep a change of clothes in your office
- Buy high quality tools so that you only have to buy them once.
- Manliness is not just being able to take care of yourself. It is taking care of others as well
- Go with the decision that will make for a great story.
- When you walk- Look straight ahead. Not at your feet
- Nice guys don’t finish last. BORING guys do
- Find your passion. Then figure out how to get paid for it.
- No matter their job or their status in life, EVERYONE deserves respect
- The most important thing you can learn is personal responsibility. Bad things happen, it’s your job to overcome them.
- The first one to get angry- loses.
- Do what needs to be done without complaining. It won’t help speed things up.
- NEVER stop learning
- ALWAYS go into public dressed like you are about to meet the love of your life.
- Don’t change yourself just to make someone happy. Unless that someone is YOU.
- If you’re the smartest person in the room. You are in the wrong room.
- LUCK favors the prepared.
- Women find confidence sexy as hell (no one likes a whiner)
- Do whatever you want to do in life. BUT BE THE BEST AT IT
- Enjoy your life. Work to Live. Not Live to work
- If a llama spits at you yes, you can spit back at it. This is the only time it’s acceptable to spit in public.
and for when you are older
- Don’t let the little head do the thinking for the big head.
- NEVER have sex with anyone who doesn’t want it as much as you.
HAPPY FATHERS DAY JEFF. YOU WERE A GREAT DAD. WE ALL MISS YOU