I lost my father to stage 4 pancreatic cancer when I was 25 years old. In those seemingly short 25 years, my dad taught me life lessons and left a lasting legacy that I will carry with me throughout life. It sometimes saddens me, especially around Father’s Day, to know my future children will never get to meet the first man I ever loved, but it brings me great comfort in knowing that they will one day prosper and learn from the amazing life he lived. Here are four life lessons taught to me by my late father, David Tryon.
Your hardships don’t define you.
It was not all sunshine and butterflies throughout my dad’s life. He faced many hardships, including a battle with alcoholism. When I was 2 years old, after years of struggling with this addiction, he quit drinking cold turkey and never looked back. He was strong-willed (i.e. stubborn), and when he put his mind to something, he accomplished it. Since I witnessed him overcome so much, I know that same strength lies within me.
Crying is okay.
After serving 25 years in the Navy, you’d think this tough, strong man wouldn’t have a soft side. Well, three daughters later, and my dad was a teddy bear. He cried over every card we wrote him, at every prom, at every graduation. I learned from his unashamed vulnerability that crying is perfectly fine and a healthy way to emote. His rugged yet tender heart helped shape the woman I am today.
Invest your time wisely.
I’ll never forget the love that my dad had for my mom. He was a hopeless romantic and loved to do sweet gestures for her and his daughters. My parents loved to travel and never hesitated to leave me at home. Back then, it was annoying, but now, I cherish how much they loved each other and how they valued their time together. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time with him, but as a “busy” teenager, my social calendar was far too packed most days (cue eye roll). From this qualm, I’ve learned to invest my time where, and with whom, it matters most.
Dance like there’s no tomorrow.
My dad was diagnosed with cancer four months before I was to be married. The prognosis was so grim that we were unsure if he would make it to the wedding day. He was there. He walked me down the aisle, he killed at the father/daughter dance, and he was on the dance floor the entire night.
Throughout my life, I have so many fond memories of him dancing. I’ve watched videos of how he’d hold me as a baby and dance around the house. It got more embarrassing as a teenager when he’d show off his goofy moves. But on my wedding day, I’ve never been more thankful to see him dance.
Happy Father’s Day to all the incredible dads who are instilling valuable life lessons in their children. Never underestimate the power of your words and actions. Your legacy depends on it!
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