What my Dad taught me, and the two-years since his death

It was two years ago today that my Dad passed away.  It was unexpected and all unfolded within a few hours.  It was devastating.

This morning on my run.  I was thinking about my Dad and what I said about my Dad at his funeral.  I used this system to write what I said at my Dads funeral that day, and have never looked at it since.  It has been sitting here, unpublished for two years.  I am not sure why I haven’t looked at it. I guess, just busy like everyone else.  I remembered most of what I said that day, but reading it again this morning it brings back such great memories of my Dad that I don’t ever want to forget.

What better way to honor my Father today than to share with the world, some of what he taught me.  The words in italic below are the exact words I shared with the friends, family, and others who joined us to celebrate my Dads life two years ago. All of the bad grammar, wrong spelling , punctuation errors, and bad sentence structure included.  The title was simple.

Five Things My Dad Taught Me

I told myself that I would really push myself to get out of my comfort zone this year.  I didn’t expect this to be part of it.  Thanks Dad.

I want to thank my friends Chase and Brian who both have been so helpful this week.  They both lost their fathers unexpectedly, in the last two years, and they both have reached out to me each day this week and have provided me with so much insight, support, and perspective.  Thank you.

I talk about personal development and goal setting most of the time.  Not death, or something this emotional.  So I must warn you.  When you speak with emotion and from the heart. Words can be clunky, and my words will most likely be clunky at times,  full of emotion.

I have become somewhat of a runner in the past few years.  Running or walking for that matter, gives you a lot of time to think.  As I was running the last few days the only thing I could think about was my Dad.  Last year, I wrote a book and I dedicated it to both my parents, because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.  So they deserve all of the credit. The lessons in the book, they laid the foundation.

As I was running this week. I thought about some of the lessons my dad taught me that wasn’t necessary deliberate teachings, but it was through his example that I learned them.

Just a few simple things that my dad taught me, but had a profound impact on my life and my success in life.

These are just a few things of the many.  As I thought about what to say these are the ones that really come to my mind.  Something that I now know and we should all remember, is that more is Caught than Taught.

  1. Word hard.
    I can remember being a kid.  I can’t even remember how old I was. But I can remember going to this place where my dad worked and him doing some with pallets.  Some kind of pallet place.  I am not sure if they made them or broke them down or delivered them. I can remember being at his work and my Dad actually working, and my brother and I playing around on them.  It had to be a Saturday, because we were off of school.  But my most vivid memory is of my dad driving the flatbed truck over to my mamaws and papaws while he was out on a delivery or pickup. He was proud to let my brother and I play on the back of the truck.  Kind of dangerous now that I look back at it.  Kids playing on the back of huge truck that we could easily fall off of, or fall and get stabbed by a piece of metal.  But we had fun and it was a big deal for us to play on that truck.

    I can see us doing it now.  He drove that truck up until the last day he worked.  He had fallen off that truck and broke his heel and got a hernia, in the last few years, but he still did his job and knew what had to be done and did it for thirty plus years.

  2. Be on time.
    I am really like my father on this one.  The people in here that work with me know this.  I can can remember at times it really getting on my nerves if I am being honest.   I can remember one time that we were meeting for a birthday dinner.  We were supposed to be there at 5:00 or so.  Which for those of you who know me.  I don’t eat dinner at 5:00, if I do eat dinner.  Typical dad he gets there a half hour early and calls me and asks me where I was.  I am like dad, we are not supposed to be there until 5:00.  But that is who he is.  He didn’t miss work and didn’t show up late. I am so thankful that I learned this from him.

  3. Care enough to want to connect with people.
    How many of you have had a conversation with my father about a restaurant location, a road, an expressway, or any other kind of random conversation?  I think we all have.  If I am being honest, at times it would really get on my nerves.  But as I have reflected this week about my dad, it really hit me why he did this. He was just trying to find a way to connect with someone.  I actually do the same thing, and have done the same thing to connect with people.

This is the lesson that I have applied to my life, not as good as my dad did it.  But it is a concept that he perfected.  He was always looking for a way to connect with people.  This one little skill that I learned from him is what has allowed me to have the career that I have had thus far.

What is funny is this week we were looking for pictures of Dad and it was really hard to find a whole lot of them because he was always the ones taking the pictures.  He loved to capture the pictures and then share them with everybody.  On Monday, a group of us was sitting around laughing because we were looking at our text messages from my Dad and they were all pictures.  There wasn’t very many text messages from him with words in it. It was always pic.

What I will miss most about my dad:

  • His random calls to tell me he just rode by my offices and didn’t see my car in the parking lot.
  • This weekend, with the Masters going on.  If I wasn’t watching it with him, he would call me and tell me how Tiger Woods was doing.
  • The pictures of my nephews via text message.
  • His willingness to drop whatever he was doing to come help me when I needed it.  If I was sick or car troubles.
  • Him telling me about the time we went to the PGA Championship and how cool the Bloody Mary’s that I had were.  He could remember in fine detail everything about the drink. 
  • His love for the show Survivor, which till this day I don’t understand.  I think he loved it because it was usually on a beach and by watching that show he it felt as if he was on a beach.  He loved the beach.  He loved to tell me about whatever the new season was and the beach they were on.

4.  Take care of your mother and your wife.
    Dad took care of his family first.  He did that throughout his life.  When      Papaw was alive he took care of his father.  He spent time with his father and honored his father.   My dad learned to take care of his mother from my papaw.  And I learned it from my dad.

  My nephews are here. Cash has had the last nine-months to spend time with his grandfather, my dad.  As you look at the pictures over there you can see that he loved his grandchildren.  Or you can look at my phone and the text messages from my dad, how much he loved them.  I have a lot of pictures of them.   Carter has had close to six years to spend with my dad.  I am not sure what he will remember, but my hope is that whatever he has learned, he wont forget.

5. So the last thing I learned from my father is that “Do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do.”

Dad spent his entire life doing what he had to do.  He took care of my mother and his mother.  He worked hard.  He was always on time, most of time way too early.  He cared enough about people to connect with them. These are the things that I caught from my father.  He taught these to me by doing them and living them.  So, the last thing I am going to learn from my father is remember to always do.  That is what he always did, and that is what he taught me through his examples.

Thank you for joining us this evening.

Funerals are usually long and emotional.  I can remember saying I wanted to keep it light.  I am not sure if the sarcasm and jokes play as well in writing.  But, I can remember that day it did lighten things up, which is what everyone needs during a time like that.

Since my Dads passing, a lot has changed. All great stuff.  I still think about him daily and miss him terribly. He would be 62 today.  He would hopefully be strongly considering retiring.  That is what he was talking about two years ago today.

Being from the old school my Dad was doing what he had to do.  Which was work until he could retire.  He was looking forward to do that day.  He never got there, unfortunately.

So the lesson that he taught me that I am now attempting to live everyday is: Don’t wait for some made up age 65, 62, or 70, to retire. You don’t know if you will ever make it to that age. Instead make a plan to retire on your time. Retire on your plan. You decide what that age is.

I love you Dad. Curtis Ray Willett, Sr.;  January 19th, 1955 – April 5th, 2015.

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

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3 Responses to What my Dad taught me, and the two-years since his death

  1. Kim says:

    My condolences on your Fathers passing. As I sit here I am a little older than your Father. I am feeling the urgency of my life also and have embraced the idea of making each day count, have fun at whatever I am doing (I am still working), and making sure that I’m letting the important people in my life know how much they mean to me.

  2. ladykamib says:

    Thanks for sharing your story about your dad. I’m taking every moment in with my dad. He’s teaching me similar lessons. Very sorry for your loss

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