I have never been a “daddy’s girl. My parents separated on somewhat good terms when I was just a toddler, and my relationship with my dad has always been a bit distant. Until I became an adult, I resented him for this. However, as an older, wiser, more forgiving and less dramatic version of my previous self, I now look back at my life and see, woven throughout, a slew of subtle, even subconscious life lessons from my father.
Guest-post by Hannah Tool.
Life Lessons I Learned From My Father:
Work Hard, But Never For The Paycheck
My dad was never one for physical fitness; he’d rather read Far Side comics than health articles. But over the past few months, when I started a dedicated effort to get my physical health in check, I found myself thinking of my father’s work ethic as my guiding light.
He’s never been rich; he’s only sporadically been employed. Not for lack of work, but for the world’s lack of passion for what he does. My father is an artist; a woodworker, to be precise. He’ll spend a dozen hours refinishing an antique chair that sells for $125 at auction, if he’s lucky.
Break down the hourly labor, subtract materials costs, and he’s making just around minimum wage. But he works for the result, not the pay. And that’s how I’ve learned to tackle my physical health.
Keep Your Sense of Humor
There are two things I couldn’t get through life without; oxygen, and laughter. Thanks to my dad, I have a hearty—although a little off-color—sense of humor.
Especially around Christmas, when the reality of being poorer than dirt always set in a little harder than it did the rest of the year, my dad had a knack for brightening the holiday with gag gifts that, although they probably only cost a few dollars and a thrift store, lit Christmas morning up better than the most elegantly decorated tree.
Last Christmas, I was gifted a pop-up children’s’ book which enacted different nightmares—drowning, being attacked by snakes, and getting trapped in an elevator, to name a few. The year before that, he gave me a box of tiny toy tools, since I’m, “the littlest Tool in the family.”
(I’m the youngest of three, and my siblings’ and my last name is Tool).
Puns Are Always Appropriate
I love writing, and wordplay is somewhat of a passion of mine. When I was six, my dad called me into the kitchen and asked, “Hannah, do you know what my favorite type of music is?” I shook my head. He then held up a rock and one of the dinner rolls he’d just cooked.
Even at six, I appreciated it.
Happiness Is Paramount
My dad has a way of turning even the worst news into something positive. Whether he’s sharing his financial woes with my sister and me, or informing my brother and me that a relative just passed away, he always finds a way to package the information with an upside.
When my siblings and I were very young, our cat was hit by a car at our mother’s house while we were staying with our dad. My mom called him to let him know, and he decided to break the news to us before we went back to our moms.
He told us our cat was in cat heaven, then hugged us all at once and said, “But what’s important is that we’re all here together.”
The most important life lesson I learned from my father is the importance of living a simple life. A good night’s sleep, a hard day’s work, and a morning cup of coffee are all he’s ever needed to feel like his living the life he wants.
My father may not be the classic candidate for Father of the Year, but he’s a good man, and I’m the woman I am due to the role—albeit a small one—he played in my life. He’s proof that a father-daughter relationship need not be conventional, nor even functional, to impart life lessons.
I hope these lessons I learned from my father help inspire you. What life lessons have you learned from your father?