1. How to laugh. He is one of the funniest people I know. He is easy to make laugh and it is easy for him to make others laugh.
2. How to tell a story. He has a million of them. Childhood, High School, College, and a long illustrious career as teacher and coach, gave him plenty of material.
3. How to love my country. I don’t mean this in a patriotic, nationalistic way. He taught me to love where I’m from. We spent time outdoors appreciating the Natural History of the Cascades, Rockies, Hoh River and Quinault Rivers, the Prairie, the Pacific. He drove me to far off battlefields, to forts of Pioneers, to museums full of stolen riches and stories of triumph. I am able to love my home for its historic victories and its blundering failures which, in turn, helps me to understand and love my current country of residence.
4. How to be a good friend. Growing up we were surrounded by friends. Colleagues, college buddies, cousins, fishing pals, coaches, golfing partners, he seemed to have infinite circles of friends who filled our house and back yard with love and laughter.
5. How to be a good student. He never pushed. He gave me ideas, and helped me edit my work. He just asked “Did you do your best?” And when I wasn’t doing it, the pain was all on me.
6. How to be a good parent. He taught me to know what battles to pick. I got yelled at, for sure. And I didn’t always think he was right. But when he knew I was making poor choices, he also knew he had made those same poor choices when he was young. He somehow had this sense that I would change my ways and grow out of it. (Although I never made the poor choice to get drunk, go water skiing without a life jacket and play “lets see how long this guy can stay up without crashing.”)
7. How to be a good teacher. He taught me to have a positive relationship with my students. I can’t tell you how many students used to show up at our house on a Friday night. My mom would make them lemonade and popcorn. He had high standards and believed that not everyone should achieve the top score. If he had too many A’s he would adjust his tests. For him it was important to always raise the bar, to get the student to outperform even what they thought they could do.
8. How to balance school and home life. Well, actually, I think I’m still learning about this one. We spent our weekends camping, fishing, but mostly playing. I always appreciated that I could tag along to any school event. His students always made me feel welcome and important. I always felt that even in the midst of the hectic life of teaching and coaching, he was there for me.
So here’s to you Dad, Coach, Teacher, Grandpa on Father’s Day! May you continue to teach/coach me for many years to come.