Three years ago today, I lost my dad.
His bad habits are what eventually killed him, but he was an extraordinary man who did not fully embrace his own capabilities. He was by far the smartest man I’ve ever known, and I’m fortunate that I inherited a little bit of that. He was my mentor and one of my best friends.
It’s a worn out phrase, but the greatest life lesson my dad ever taught me was not to worry about things I can’t control. It took me a while to learn, but once I did, life became much less stressful. I’m thankful everyday for that.
I’m sad that since my kids were so young when he died, they will not really remember him like I do. And I do remember him…everyday for the past three years he has crossed my mind in some way. I’m blessed that I had a father for the first 35 years of my life who truly cared about me and helped my mom take care of me as best as he knew how.
One of the last times I saw my dad, I asked him again if he would talk to me about his time in the army. I knew he was an airplane mechanic in Vietnam, and I found out after he died that he was in the Army Security Agency. This is probably why he never spoke much about his service, but as a history teacher (and history buff in general) I was always asking questions anyway. I wanted to document his experiences in some way. I just couldn’t get him to open up about it. As I continued to ask him questions about where he went, what he did, and such, he simply responded, “Son, I was no war hero.”
What he didn’t understand, and I didn’t bother to explain, was that I wasn’t asking him to be a war hero. What I should have told him was that he was my hero, and that was good enough.