Every father is different, and has a different influence on his children. Some fathers teach their kids to ski or to change the oil in a car. My father didn't teach me these things. In my case, I learned about sports, coaching, and inner strength.
My dad was a big sports guy. Football, basketball, but especially baseball. He played, coached, and reffed. In his prime, he even had a try-out with a major league team. Then he went off to war, to fight Hitler and the Nazis. After coming home, he joined the police department and, after a long career, eventually became Chief of Detectives.
A natural leader and teacher, my dad was an effective coach, and a beloved one too. To this day, men who were coached by my dad decades ago, in football or basketball or baseball, will say how much they were influenced by him. Some feared him because of his toughness; some loved him because he cared so much about his players. In a nutshell, that's how I felt about him too, a mix of fear and love. A boxer in wartime, he was very strong, both physically fit and mentally tough. At the same time, he was very loving and affectionate.
If I were to distill a few of the key things my dad taught me, I would say:
- Be your own man - Figure out who you are in this life and develop yourself, your gifts, your skills. Stay in training. Never stop. Keep growing and learning.
- Don't let the SOBs get you down - During his career on the police force, he often encountered people and politicians who tested his patience and his sense of ethics. Despite the risk to his career, he took the higher road and told them where to go.
- Have moxie - Don't be timid about life. Take a chance. Be daring. Put yourself out there. Get into the game and try.
I hope that I have channeled some of my dad's influence in raising my two sons. In the end, it'll be their task to decide what sort of influence I have had on them. I can say for sure, though, that, like my dad, I have not taught them anything about skiing or changing oil in a car.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Father's Day Sunday June 19, 2011.