Old Spice aftershave, cookouts, strawberry shortcake are all memories of previous Father’s Day.

Growing up, us kids would pick out a tie or a bottle of Old Spice as a present for Dad. Much later in life it was tools for working with wood – saws, benches, sanders etc. Nowadays it’s more likely a nice dinner out on this special day.

Sometimes as Father’s Day approaches I reflect on all I’ve learned from him throughout the years.

When we went fishing Dad would tell me to stand back from the creek so you don’t startle the fish with your shadow. I often wondered though if he told me that because one of the first times he took us kids fishing I got too close to the bank and slid down into the creek. He was quick to fish me back out but soon after I started hearing the shadow theory. Then of course there was the “Don’t talk to much because the fish can hear.” Do fish have ears? I think what I was really being taught was patience and the joy that solitude can bring.

Although I haven’t fished in quite a while, the peaceful, quiet time along area creeks remains in my mind. That solitude of just enjoying the world around us was one of the best things Dad ever taught me. Those quiet moments allow the stress of the day to simply flow away and a feeling of peace to take its place.

Dad taught me about patience without really trying by taking me fishing. Fish almost never took the bait as quickly as I thought they should and life doesn’t always happen on our preferred time schedule or order.

Dad was able to teach us without us knowing he was instructing us on life. We’d work with him in the garden pulling weeds or harvesting vegetables. Those days taught us that there is nothing wrong with working hard and doing a good job.

It wasn’t all about hard work. We learned there was time for fun as well. Memories of vacations, trips to Myrtle Beach – the first time in a station wagon in which we also slept. Dad would shave using the side view mirror and Mom made breakfast by cooking on a charcoal grill. It was simple but fun.

A lot of the fun times we had as a family were like that. Simple and filled with laughter. While the cost of living has risen from what it was in the 1960s, that lesson from long ago still rings true today. The enjoyment we get out of life doesn’t have to cost a lot. Time spent with family and friends is what is important.

Several years ago, Dad and I were in Maine when Father’s Day arrived. The location of where we were might have been different but how we celebrated mirrored so many Father’s Days before. We had a picnic at a little state park. We found a picnic table with an ocean view ate our lunch and spent the afternoon enjoying the view, the sea breeze and playing Yatzee. We enjoyed playing a simple game and taking moments to quietly sit and look out across the ocean. While the trip north may not be one we make often, the picnic and our time together are what made the day so memorable.

Yes, Dad has taught many lessons without richly teaching. It’s been how he has lived his life as an example to his children. All through our growing years, he was preparing us for life on our own. Giving us simple truths that we could use throughout our lives. And isn’t that just what a father should do – build a strong foundation from which his kids can grow.

That foundation, the many encouraging words – a simple thank you doesn’t seem enough to tell him exactly what it all has meant for our lives and in the making of who we are today but I will say it anyway. Thank you Dad for all you have taught your children and all you have strived to show us by living your life as an example. We couldn’t have had a better role model.

Happy Father’s Day to you and to all the many fathers out there who every day strive to do the same for their children.

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