Thank You Dad, For Everything You’ve Taught Me
March 17, 2016
I always find it strange when you’re out of town somehow, no matter how often it happens, and I’ve begun to realize why exactly that is. When I come home every day from a day at school, whether it was freshman year and you were anxious to see how I was adjusting, or junior year to make sure I was okay because I had an unbearable workload and my brain was riddled with anxieties, I always see your beaming face and am enveloped in a bear hug. Even this year, after being glued to a seat all day that I (let’s face it) don’t want to be in, avoiding exams I don’t want to take, you were there in the kitchen waiting, food at hand and listening ears turned on for whatever I needed to get off my chest. It’s hard to write a proper thank you for all that you’ve done for me because I feel as if your thankless efforts now deserve a thank you (or perhaps an apology) bigger than I can produce for all that you’ve done that I’ve failed to acknowledge. So instead of creating a list of roughly a million things of all that you’ve done for me in my eighteen years of life, I think I’ll focus on the things that I’ve learned from a man as great as yourself.
- Be kind. Not because it is the thing that is expected of you, or because it’s what others always ask of you. You’ve taught me that kindness is a thing that should be done because it’s morally the right thing to do. Not only that, but by watching you, I’ve realized that it means something different than what I thought it did before. Kindness isn’t just a smile in the hallways or a dollar to charity, it’s being confronted with a situation you could otherwise walk away from and choosing to help. I’ll never forget the night this year that a huge blizzard hit and you had promised me we would go pick up my friend to sleepover. As soon as we drove out of our neighborhood, we saw a car across the street that had spun out and their car had gotten stuck. Nothing was unusual for me; I had just assumed we would pull out onto the street and drive away to get my friend before the roads got even worse. To my surprise, however, you pulled aside and began helping the driver in the freezing, flurrying storm. As soon as we were pulled over for a decent amount of time, cars slowly began rolling in behind us to help out and we eventually got the stuck car out later. We stayed for probably 30 minutes to help out, and when we got back into the car, I remember you looking at me and apologizing, like I would be upset over his sudden act of kindness. That’s kindness for me, now; it’s a stuck car that isn’t yours and helping regardless of what others may think of you for it.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. I cannot tell you how many times you and I have given money to the homeless on the side of street corners or actively assisted in charity work. Some of my fondest memories with you are at the soup kitchen or delivering presents to the less fortunate. You would tell me stories about people you had known, or explain to me how many of those people are just in need of a helping hand. For the longest time, when you would reach out your hand and give someone change at a light, I would ask you why you still gave to them if there was a chance they would spend it on something to feed an addiction or dependency, and your answer has been unwavering since the first time I asked you. “Give people the benefit of the doubt, Gabi. What they do with our gift is up to them now.”
- What’s happening around you matters. As a kid, I thought it was ridiculous how often my dad brought up current events to me because in my head, the world around me was as small as my friends, family, and maybe the occasional stranger that I ran into. Now, though, I’ve come to the realization that the world he spoke about that played out on the news was ultimately connected to the one in which I was living, and growing up only makes my connection with it stronger. Being informed by you was the best thing I didn’t want to listen to because it made me realize my life is not the starring role; I’m simply a supporting actress in this crazy thing called life we’re all working to survive and succeed in. Most importantly, I found out that the reason why we broadcast what we think others should know is because news, bad or good, can inspire us to change. One of the first reasons I began to slowly appreciate journalism is because you showed me how the truth can change everything when it’s brought into the light. Bonding with you over everything from political debates to stories on the news was something that made me more worldly and allowed me to explore my voice for myself.
- Form your own opinions. I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with someone’s ability to not care at all what people say or think of you as I have with you. You know, I’m not even sure you look in the mirror when you leave the house sometimes, and that isn’t meant as an insult; you look for comfort in clothing instead of style and cherish articles of clothing that should have been thrown away years ago because they hold memories. It isn’t that you look bad when you leave the house, per say, but you wouldn’t really care if you did either. You’ve always pushed me to find my voice and be who I was meant to be in life. We get so worked up to the point of yelling sometimes when we argue because we both feel so strongly on issues, and you never fail to point out problems in my opinion. Most would think this would discourage someone trying to strengthen their voice, but as it turns out, it only made me believe in what I was saying more as I found flaws in my argument and worked to fix them. By causing me to doubt my opinions, I could see both sides of the topic from a different perspective. You’ve never told me that I was outright wrong and have supported me no matter what opinions I decide to make, which has given me confidence in myself that I never seemed to be able to find before.
- Support who you love (even if you disagree). We can never really seem to see eye to eye on every issue, or at least it seems that way whenever we butt heads about something. Never, though, have I ever thought that this meant you loved me any less than if I agreed with you on everything. You’ve taught me that love is a bond that supersedes beliefs and choices that we’ve made in life. Maybe you don’t agree with everything I do (I sure don’t with you) but just because you don’t agree with my choices doesn’t mean you don’t support me as a person. I will always love you for being the person you are, even if you are being a jerk that day.
So finally, Dad, thank you for being the best father I could’ve ever asked for as a role model. Thank you for the bear hugs on my bad days, the heated debates over almost everything, the things you dragged me to that helped shape me, the times we spent helping others. Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of kindness and finally, thank you for teaching me how to love.
I love you, Dad. Thank you for everything.