Dad’s Eyes Taught Me All I Needed to Know

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

My Dad would’ve been 85-years old yesterday and I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately. A father’s job is to set up his children for success. My father did the best he could. He gave me what he didn’t have — a stable home life, faithfulness to my mother, and the daily presence of a father. I had to cross the half-century mark before I could fully appreciate the value of these things.

Sorry, Dad.

While my father provided a solid foundation, he didn’t offer much in the way of mentoring, guiding, and teaching me. His father abandoned him at a young age, and at 17-years old, Dad quit high school to join the Navy. He married Mom at 21, had my sister nine months later, and off to the races!

Teach Me from Your Pain

In retrospect, I’ve come to believe he lacked confidence to think he had anything of value to offer me beyond the necessities of life he often lacked. How sad, and untrue. We’re all broken people seeing the world through cracked lenses. Dad could’ve taught me much about life from his pain and struggles.

His Eyes Changed the Course of My Life

Dad could’ve done more to prepare me for life and for success, but he did what he knew. His most important contribution to my life was more what I saw in his eyes once than what I heard him say. Near the end of a disastrous freshman year of college, I drove to his workplace to get his signature on a form to drop out. He signed the form, handed it me, and his only words were, “I wish you wouldn’t.”

But his eyes, oh goodness, I still see them now. Dad’s eyes showed such sadness. His heart broke over my decision.

This moment was the perfect time for sage advice about his own experiences and regrets due to dropping out of high school; about how much harder his life was because of that decision. But he didn’t. Maybe Dad felt he didn’t have the right. He did. All fathers do.

Dad Gave Me What He Had to Give

But maybe I would’ve ignored his words. I was arrogant and hard-headed. The eyes, however, I couldn’t unsee them. Dad’s eyes told a thousand stories I couldn’t ignore.

I drove back to school, cleared out my room, and headed home tossing the form in the trash on my way out. Over the summer, I got my mind right about school and started my sophomore year on probation. However, the rest of the way, I made the Dean’s List or Chancellor’s List every semester and graduated with honors.

So, I guess in the only way he knew how, Dad did prepare me for success.

Thanks, Dad and Happy Birthday!

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