Today, I’m going to share a story from my past that has a valuable lesson attached. At the time of the story, and for years afterward, I had no idea of the impact it would have. In fact, it was only in the last several years, as I took a personal inventory to learn more about myself, did I recall this story. Although it was in my archives, and a little dusty, I remember it well.
First, I want to say a few words about my dad. One of most endearing qualities was being a wonderful story-teller (unlike me). In his lifetime, he shared many stories. He was always very animated and enthralled. He really engaged his listeners, and almost always got them to laugh.
He was also a smart successful businessman. At the top of his game, he owned 2 thriving motels. Later, after my parents divorced, he co-owned a successful bar/niteclub. However, it was not to last.
On the other side of his life, though, He had 2 failed marriages and a disgraceful end of a 3rd long-term relationship. Instead of reeling in long-term success, unfortunate circumstances caused him to lose all of it. Even more unfortunately, he never recovered any of it at the time he passed away. Not for a lack of trying, though. He spent many years in court battles trying to get back what was rightfully his, but to no avail.
Dad didn’t have the kind of life most people would envy. It was infused with heartache and failure. So, he’s not what most people would call a success story. It took me a long time to make peace with that. In the process, I’ve grown to appreciate his journey on multiple levels.
I won’t go into more specifics here, because that’s not my intention today. My intention in telling you that is so that you can appreciate the following story in a different way. You see, even though his life didn’t end as a success by conventional means, he taught me more than I am able to express. I’m still learning from his life, both his successes and his failures, 17 years after he died. The story below is one of the lessons I cherish most because it paved the way for many of my successes.
Dad’s Loving and Helpful Hand
1978. St. Clairsville, OH. Friday night. The school transformed the gym into a roller-skating rink, and Dad took my older sisters and I. We got there and rented skates, but there’s only 1 problem. I didn’t know how to roller skate because I’ve never done it before. No, actually it’s not a problem because Dad helped me. He held my hand so I wouldn’t fall and walked around the rink with me. We were going at a snail’s pace, mind you, but that never bothered Dad. He was just happy to spend time with his princess and help her. Actually, he probably just felt he was doing his job. He loved being a father. He would do anything for us.
Gradually, I got faster, and faster, and faster. Before long, I was skating faster than Dad could walk. So, off I went by myself. Lesson #1: A helping hand helps us thrive faster than we would on our own. Let’s face it. If Dad hadn’t of held my hand and walked around with me, I may have been able to still get the hang of it. But, it would’ve taken a lot longer to balance and become skilled. And I would’ve fallen a lot! (Ouch)
I was loving life. All I wanted to do was skate – EVERY song that was played. Then came another problem: couple’s skate. What? I wasn’t a couple. I didn’t have somebody to skate with. But, Dad had a solution.
“Ask somebody to skate with you,” he told me. It just so happened that a boy from my class was standing not far from us. He was also watching everybody else skating past us. Somehow, either by me or Dad, it was suggested that I ask him.
I was mortified. “No!” I guffawed back to him. I couldn’t possibly do that!
“What if he says no?”
“So. What if does?”
Really? What does that mean? How does that solve my problem? I thought. However, in an odd way, it made sense. I got it! It doesn’t matter if he says no because I’m no worse off.
Lesson #2: The blows are easier to take when you have a support system. I knew Dad would be there to console me or tell me whatever I needed to hear, or just be a shoulder to cry on, if it turned out bad. And I honestly thought it would.
What the heck! I did. I skated over to him and asked him. To my surprise, he grabbed my hand and took off skating. It took me completely by surprise. I really wasn’t expecting that. He took off so quickly that I had to catch my breath, and my footing to catch up with him. I was practically dragging behind him. But I did catch up and skated the entire song. It was my first REALLY FUN time. That’s probably why I still remember it.
Never again did I have to sit out of any skate. When he wasn’t available, I asked somebody else, who also said yes. Next thing I knew, boys were coming up to me on the couple’s skate to ask me to skate with them. Sometimes, 5 at a time. To this day, my mom and sisters still tease me about all the boys that would “line up” to skate with me. And it was all because of lesson #3. Lesson #3: Always ask for what you want.
To this day, I go after what I want. When I feel passionate or strongly about something, it’s a no-brainer. The only thought is after the fact because it was programmed into me to ask (to go for it). It wasn’t until my adulthood that I truly learned to appreciate this lesson. There is a lot of research about the subtle messages we get from our parents. Much of it is negative in nature. When they punish us, we sometimes get a subconscious imprint that we’re not good enough or stupid. Subconscious imprints come from all experiences, both good and bad. Today, I’m happy to share a positive one.
I hope you enjoyed my little story. I would love to hear your comments. Maybe you’d like to share a positive lesson you got from your parents. It doesn’t have to be about dad just because it’s Father’s Day.