Monday, June 2, 2014

The Advice My Dad Never Gave

My father is a man of little words.

He says only what needs to be said. No more. Sometimes less. Sometimes he just nods or shakes his head. Other times - and certainly the most frustrating - he gives you a one-word response that doesn't really answer your question at all.
"Dad. Where is the coffee?" 
On rare days, I call home and he has lots to tell me and I think IS HE ON SOMETHING? Caffeine? Uppers? ...crack, perhaps? And then I wonder if this is the day of the apocalypse. Are animals running for the hills? Are worms pouring out of the ground to avoid flooding? Because dad has a lot to say today and this is out of form.

I think it is safe to say at this point that you understand, right? He isn't much of a talker.

So for Father's Day when ManCrates, sent out their #DadBrags campaign to brag about some of the best advice Dad has ever given, I wasn't sure how to respond. He has never been much in the "You'll get 'em next time" advice realm. That was more my mom. And just as quickly as I knew that my dad never gave me words of advice, I understood that you don't always have to speak advice to give it.

Release the stress. You were never in control anyway. 

- Steve Maraboli

First I should point out that my dad is not Steve Maraboli. Steve is a writer. Maybe a good one. My dad is Rafael and that was just a quote I liked but I digress. My mom has often said, "Your father will never die of a heart attack." She's right. If you can't see from that picture on the left where he is carrying his small baby in a fucking tree let me spell it out: That man doesn't stress about a thing. He wanders around in this day and age with no cell phone. When we go to the mall, I will follow him around otherwise he'll wander off and get lost and it will take ME hours to find him and when I do find him I'll ask worriedly, "Umm... where were you? I looked everywhere for you." And he'll shrug. No answer.  Shoulder shrug. That. Is. It. I'll realize he was never looking for me, never even realized I was gone in the first place and if he had, it wouldn't have bothered him in the slightest. 

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." 

- Unknown

In fact, the only thing he might ever stress about is what cruise he and my mom will be taking next year or what new place they will visit. He loves to travel. He loves to pack his bags and go. He loves airplanes. Without ever saying it, traveling is my dad's purest form of education. Hmmm.... I wonder where I get my travel bug from?

Take pride in what you have and what you do.

My dad has clothes from the 70's in perfect condition. Not a wrinkle. Not a tear. Mint condition. He takes care of everything he owns. As kids we knew not to touch his things without total care. If you borrowed something bring it back as you found it. If you play with something take care of it. He bought us too many toys as kids so we were the house that all of our friends came to to play. Sure plenty was demolished but we also knew that not every child was as privileged as we were to have what we had. The same goes for his work. After Eastern airlines was liquidated due to bad leadership, my father took up work stocking shelves at our neighborhood market for years. He was never late. He hardly ever called out sick. And his aisles were always perfect. Now with kids of my own, I try to instill the same ideas. Take care of the things you have and have pride in what you do. 

"Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

He may not have been Rah-Rah-Rahing louder than any parent but he was at every dance competition my sister and I were in running after us with his video camera. He taped every single mother-effing performance we were involved in which in some years was about 20+ performances. He didn't miss one. At my very first competitive dance performance he was there waiting for me to come on with camera in hand and when my performance started the camera shut off. Battery dead. He stayed to watch but went to the room right after. My mom said he was so upset he didn't get it on video. We both knew. He may not have the words but sometimes words aren't needed. He felt like he let me down even though he was there. For my dad that was always how he showed up. I dare you to find another father who took more pictures and videos of his girls than my father did. He was behind the camera. Behind the lens. Capturing us in a way that didn't need talking. See, he was always there  - just not with advice in the form of words. Words didn't come easily to him but action did.

Life is not meant to be all that serious.

My dad is a silly guy. He played practical jokes on co-workers filling their coat pockets with sugar or leaving silly pictures of animals named after them in their locker.  In the summers, God help us if we wandered to the backyard in the evening after we were showered and in our PJs and he was out there. He would spray us with the hose soaking us completely. We'd run and try to hide behind the pool or in our clubhouse but it was no use. Sometimes I'd fall asleep on the couch watching television with him and he would stick a cigar in my mouth and take a picture of it hanging out of my open snoring hole. Other times he would write on my forehead I LOVE PAPI with a Sharpie marker. The next morning I would wake up and have to go to school with a faded black marker declaration of love for my father on my forehead. I danced on the ceiling thanks to Dad and Lionel Richie.* I learned to take silly pictures but more importantly not to care much for what others thought through his silliness. I remember a time when he still drove and he would put my sister and I in the car to visit my mom at work. She was working as a toll collector and he would drive us all the way there just to drive through her toll and say hi and then keep going. He was the kind of dad that would run from one end of the backyard and take a flying leap over the pool railing into our above ground 4ft. pool, F-L-O-A-T-I-N-G in the air before diving in the pool and bursting out of the water a moment later. He was magical. 

The Advice My Dad Never Gave

There are dads with deep, strong voices that hand out wisdomatic knowledge like brightly-colored gum balls. They say things like, "Be true to yourself" or "be whatever you want to be." That wasn't my dad's way. I'm not at all angry that he wasn't an advice dispenser, in fact, I think I myself could learn to be the kind of parent who practices what they preach without so much of the preaching. My dad never stood on a soapbox and claimed to know it all, never pretended to have all the answers; he just did the best he could - like we all do. 

We don't all have to be dispensers of wisdom nuggets to be good parents. Sometimes carrying your daughter upside down on your shoulders so she could dance on the ceiling is enough. 

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"Post your dad at his best to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the tag #DadBrags and win him something awesome." Visit ManCrates for more details. 

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The views and opinions expressed on DTWB are 100% my own. I might be occasionally compensated to provide opinions on products, services, websites, etc.  at which time I will inform my readers of such compensation. However, compensated or not, I always give my honest opinion on those topics or products. 

With that being said, my mention of Man Crates is not a compensated post nor is it a product review, it is simply an opportunity to win a cool prize right in time for Father's Day. 

*Refers to Lionel Richie's 1984 hit "Dancing on the Ceiling"


  1. It sounds like you learned a lot from your Dad, even if he didn't seem to give long speeches of advice! :)

  2. I have learned a lot from him. Sometimes we just have to live advice.


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