MY DAD, MY HERO, MY FATHER
I hope you’re spending your Father’s Day with your Dad, or at least letting him know how much you care in some special way. I suggest getting together over a great Certified Hereford Steak, grilling it yourself, and using some of his favorite spices! If you’re not able to do that, then do something this weekend that pays homage to the man who’s influenced your life.
It’s no secret that my dad is my hero. You don’t have to know me very long to see how he shaped me, and how much I value what he means to me. My father passed away several years ago, but the lessons he taught me through the way he lived his life are the foundations of what makes me who I am today. To celebrate Father’s Day I’m sharing a few of his lessons.
YOUR WORD COUNTS
Growing up at the end of a dirt road, money wasn’t always flush! I can certainly tell you that we never found it growing on our Oaks or Mesquites. When the occasional need to borrow money from the bank came up, all my father had to do was walk in and ask. I at the time can tell you I wasn’t impressed as my father sat across from Mr. Sultenfuss and said he needed to borrow whatever amount he said and that banker would just get it done. Yes, times were different back then, but your word counts. I learned that when you say you are going to do something, then you do it even if you didn’t shake on it.
Those experiences also taught me to be careful what you give your word to. As one of my father’s truism’s, “Never let your hummingbird mouth overload your mockingbird….” Today that still rings true for me- if I commit to something I do it.
BE KIND-ESPECIALLY TO CHILDREN, WOMEN, AND HORSES
There isn’t a child that can’t remember my father smiling at them. My friends loved that about him, and it taught me how to treat people. He showed me that children are gifts from God- despite who their parents are. He enjoyed kids -especially when they were learning something. There are a lot of 4-H kids around South Texas that can share a story or two of my father. That’s because he cherished knowing each and every one of them.
What he taught me about women was that they are special! Even the ones who don’t want to be treated special. My father was an Airborne Ranger, decorated soldier, and top-hand with animals. But, even he yielded to the power of my mother. I learned to open doors, walk on the side of traffic, listen when she talks, and never turn down a woman that asks you to dance. Women are beautiful and they make this little place called Earth pretty dang amazing. Every one of them is different, and as such they should be treated with respect.
The lessons I learned from my father about horses are prolific. I learned to cue a horse to do what I wanted it to do. There’s a lot to be said about how we ask and relationships, enough for another blog posting. However, my love of horses came from watching my father train them to do amazing things. Bowing, spinning, sliding stops, coming when whistled at, and running straight and fast are all things taught to a horse through communication either verbal or non-verbal. There’s a right way and a wrong way to ask a horse to do something, and that applies to life. As I’ve grown, I know that it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR LIVESTOCK BEFORE YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
It didn’t matter if we were just on the road a couple of hours going to a cow or horse show, or driving for most of the night and day. Whenever we stopped or made it to our destination, we took care of our stock first. First thing first was to get them out of that trailer (sometimes depending on how incident free the drive had been determined on how long it took for them to get out) and walk them around. Let them see where we’d shown up to and help them acclimate to the new surroundings. Then, you’d offer them water and get their bedding ready. Their needs came first!
The responsibility taught me to take care of my people. The needs of the team take precedent over what I need. Making sure they’re taken care of ensures that things go smoother. When the team is happy, then we communicate more, and the work gets done more efficiently.
STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
My father taught me early how to defend myself. I learned how to apply that at a young age in my childhood. Jealousy makes people do strange things. I had to ride the bus to school with some kids older than me, that didn’t have the opportunities I was blessed with. It led to a lot of bullying and a lot of fights. In our household, it was made clear that you were not to start any fights, but you were expected to defend yourself if being threatened. Sure, you can run away and tell somebody, but there won’t always be somebody there to save you, and that is when you set the price high for being encroached upon. (I know it’s not what conventional parenting teaches today, but maybe it should be!) So, I learned to fight, how to size up an opponent, find a weakness, and make them regret the transgression. I also learned that it’s ok to be outnumbered, and it’s ok to lose a fight. It’s not the end of the world to lose, and you don’t have to escalate the situation to nuclear to make your point. Personally, I think the world would be a better place if we all had a little more fight, and a lot less just going with the flow.
BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF YOU
Dad, was my biggest supporter. I can’t recall him ever saying I couldn’t pull off any of the dreams I ever told him about. Of course, he always responded that I needed to go to college. Which to this day baffles me, because for not having a college degree he was one of the smartest and well versed people I knew. But, whether I wanted to be a Top Gun pilot, astronaut, veterinarian, doctor, lawyer, or football hero he was in my corner. The world was mine to have and nothing was out of reach, and no dream was judged.
To this day, this still gets me in trouble. I believe that I can take on challenges, and opportunities -then I have a gut check and find out what I’m really made of to succeed. Sure I’m not a veterinarian, but I can doctor that calf, and put its eye back in place. (True story) It’s amazing the opportunities you have when you know you can accomplish anything.
I’ll admit this has been the hardest lesson to learn. I grew up being very competitive, and that was something I put on myself. My father never told me to go out and win or else. In fact, what he always told me was, “just have fun!” I don’t know why it took so long to sink in, but “just having fun” should’ve been my plan all along.
Having fun, wasn’t an excuse to go off unprepared. You still need to work hard, but you need to enjoy the moment when that work is being completed. It’s not about the gold buckle, but about the experience. Enjoy the moment when preparation meets execution- just have fun.
LIFE IS SHORT MAKE IT COUNT
We never know when our time on this world is up, so make it count. My father experienced more in his lifetime than most with double the time ever will. I learned that life is precious and we need to enjoy the ride. Mistakes will be made, but live life with no regrets. Jump out of airplanes, go on shark dives, ride wild horses, and love unconditionally. Honor your word, serve your family, and leave life better than you found it!
Like I started off with, my Dad was my hero and even though he’s no longer with me physically, I know his spirit is in me, and I’ll see him again one day. In the meantime, I’ll spend Father’s Day like he would’ve wanted by enjoying my family and time spent with them, grilling some great Certified Hereford Beef steaks, and banging out some old Waylon songs on my guitar.
Happy Father’s Day Dad and Thanks,