As much as I love summer, it’s always made me extra wistful since my father’s suicide 12 years ago. I’ve felt a little twinge in my heart during these months, and the waves of nostalgia can be quite powerful sometimes. It’s almost as if my heart (or psyche, maybe???) is trying to reach backwards over my shoulder to a happier time. It’s that wanting of childhood innocence coupled with missing my father.
With Father’s Day this Sunday and his birthday next month, I’ve obviously been thinking a lot about all the lessons he taught. Some of them were intentional, some were by accident and still others I only realized and came to appreciate after his death — I guess he was sort of sneaky like that. Here are four love lessons I learned from my father…
1. Give your heart fully: My father lived his entire life by this guiding principle. In everything he did, he gave it his all. And with everyone he loved, he wasn’t shy about letting them know just how much he loved them. Maybe he had a feeling that his time was limited. I knew I was loved, and I’m thankful for that every single day.
2. Family is most important: I vividly remember the glimmer my father used to get in his eyes when he and his siblings would be together. They loved telling stories from their childhood, and you could tell just how important those stories were to him. He held them ever-so-close to his heart. During his last Christmas, he made sure he didn’t miss the family party. Family, he taught me, will always be there for you. And, you should always be there for them.
3. Love yourself: It sounds simple, but my father was big on giving my sister and me high-fives of confidence. He always wanted to hear about our day and loved cheering us on when it came to our studies. But he also had a sneaky knack for teaching us about our self-worth apart from anything external — school, friends, society in general. At the very basic level, he thought, love needs to come from within.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind: Maybe it had something to do with teaching us about self-confidence, but I sometimes think I got my, well, opinionated mind from my father. He taught us to speak our minds and never be afraid to be ourselves. I’ll admit that it’s a trait that’s maybe gotten me into a bit of trouble over the years, but I doubt I’d be the person I am today had I not been so fierce in speaking my mind.
More than anything, these lessons course through my veins every day. Especially when taken as a whole, these are some pretty powerful words of wisdom. Everyone wants to leave some lasting impression, a true legacy that will live on even after they’re gone. You want to know that you somehow made a difference in someone’s life
As I’m writing this, Sarah McLachlan’s I Will Remember You came on Pandora, and I can’t help but think it’s somehow a sign from my father.
“Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories…”
I won’t, Dad. I love you…and thank you… xoxo
[Photo via We Heart It]