Almost a year ago, my mom passed away after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s. I wrote a LIFEies Tribute to her after her passing (click here to read). I realized that I didn’t want to wait until my Dad passed to honor him, so here is a living tribute to my 83-year-old father. So this Thanksgiving week, I say thank you to my father and try to define what love means to me and him.
What is love?
I’m from a big family. Six kids. I am third. I have a younger brother and two younger sisters, as well as two older brothers. My older brothers and I are all 15 months apart, and when the three of us were under 4 years old, my biological father left my mom and the three boys. The man who became my true father started dating my mom and ultimately married her. He demanded he get the boys as part of the marriage and when they got married, he adopted us. He was all in– 4 for 1. Changed my life forever. The lesson: Adoption = Love.
Life changed dramatically when they got married. He was tough. He was focused. He made us. He gave us discipline which made us into the boys, young men and now adults that we are today. I learned what discipline was and have never wavered in my 58 years. Changed my life forever. The lesson: Discipline = Love.
My Dad was a high school teacher but that was only a front. He taught so he could coach baseball. He was a coach at heart – and a damned good one. In the mid-1990s they named the baseball field at my high school after my dad.
In 2010 he was inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. He was a coach alright. He taught young men how to play a game. He taught boys how to become men. I got the privilege to play for him. He taught me skills that would eventually pay for 100% of my college, and lead to getting drafting and playing professionally for the Minnesota Twins organization. During my baseball career, he taught me all the things that go along with learning a skill (10,000 hours of focused repetitions long before Malcolm Gladwell coined the phrase). I continue to use those lessons every single day as I hone my skills in my business and teach my kids and my team. Changed my life forever. The lesson: Learning a skill = Love
My Mom and Dad were both school teachers which meant they never had any money raising six kids. I got a finance degree and an MBA. I learned all about finances in school and as we started our business in 1991, I learned how to be financially successful. Years ago, my dad started trusting me with his finances. These discussions are hard for a proud man. My mom was fighting her Parkinson’s and the bills were getting more expensive. He learned to ask for help with anything financial. As I grow older, I have learned from him to ask those around me for help. Lots of it. All the time. Changed my life forever. The lesson: Asking for help = Love
My mom’s Parkinson’s progressed every year for over 15 years. She slowed down more, became more of an invalid and ultimately acquired dementia. He never, ever left her. He never, ever let go of her. He remained committed to her until her passing. Just as he is committed to our entire family. Changed our lives forever. The lesson: Commitment = Love.
Thank you, Dad. I love you and am in deep gratitude for the lessons you have taught me and the love you have given me throughout my entire life.
If you have one or both parents alive, I challenge you to write a living tribute to them. Tell them, “Thank you.”
Dad = Love
Rule #1 from my book The Fantastic Life: Know Your Stories