good father

Writer’s Note: I wrote this a few days after Father’s Day. Not because I forgot to get my pops a gift and figured I could just throw some sappy bullshit up here to satisfy my requirements as a grateful son, but because (most) parents should be appreciated, adored, and thanked every day of the year. Especially if they’re super cool.

I have enduring admiration for every man who is my kith and kin. This of course includes my father, Gary. He’s taught me so many important things about life that have helped make me the man I am today.

Here are five of them.

I love you, Dad.

Family comes first.

My parents made four children between 1986 and 1990. Let that craziness sink in for a second. And then consider that my mom often tells me I was the most well-behaved of our motley crew of life alterations. Then consider that I was a prick-and-a-half when I was little. You think I suck now? Imagine what I was like before I learned some modicum of verbal restraint.

With such a brood born so chronologically close together, there were some serious expenses.

My dad was able to keep us all afloat through the auto body shop he owned, but when he was presented with an opportunity to help my maternal grandfather run his grocery store, he made the change. He’s been there almost 20 years now, and the monetary benefits have been huge for our family. Would my dad prefer to work on cars all day? Maybe. But he gave up something he loves to make life better for the people he loves even more.

Support your family, even when they are being idiots.

My parents have had to put up with a lot of daunting stuff from all of us, like career changes, academic failures, general disregard for human decency, self-centeredness, health problems (both physical and mental), and even drug addiction. But through it all, they’ve remained super close and extremely supportive of us. Anything we need to get back up after hitting rock bottom, my parents will provide if they can. Pops taught me that nothing is more important than unconditionally sticking by the people you love.

It’s OK for grown men to get emotional.

Growing up, I was a very frequent crier. My mom used to call me her sensitive child. I couldn’t comprehend why I got so emotional over things that I knew, even at a young age, should seem trivial. I thought my being an emotional person was a negative thing, and if I hadn’t had such a rad dad, I might still think the same thing. (I’ve met plenty of fathers who are all about emotional repression and BEING SUPER MANLY or whatever, and I feel sorry that they’ve pushed that attitude onto their kids.) I remember the first time I saw my dad crying. I’d waltzed into the bathroom in our house, and he was tearing up a little bit while sitting on the toilet. (Not using the toilet, just sitting on it, pants up.) To this day, I still don’t know what had gotten him worked up. At the time, it could’ve been any number of things. But I remember him telling me that it’s more than OK for anyone to cry every once in a while —even grown men.

It’s never too late to change your life, especially if you’re willing to work hard.

I’ve already mentioned Gary’s career change. It was a slight inspiration for the number of career changes I’ve made since, well, starting to have a career. I went from journalist, to pharmaceutical copywriter, to what I am now, which is a student and freelance writer (which means I don’t have a stable job). At age 26.

And I’ve never been happier.

Sometimes, you just have to let it all go for a night and enjoy your f**king life.

Before tapping out for the night, my dad was the drunkest person at my brother’s bachelor party (which you can read about here). I believe this was the first time I’d actually seen him drunk, and it was oddly inspiring. My dad works so hard every day of his life (seriously—dude doesn’t take days off), but he’s still able to just cast all his responsibility aside and get all the way turned up on occasion.

Image credit: JandVDesigns