My Dad was the son of a Greek immigrant from the town of Maroni. He spent an early childhood in St. Louis for a bit before traveling around and finally settling in Stillwater, Oklahoma. His father, a man I called Gurney (his real name was Pete), ran a Napa autoparts store. My Dad, his brother, and his sister helped their dad run the store. To this day my Dad uses all the car knowledge he gained to avoid doing any possible work on his car. It's honestly impressive how long dad's truck has lasted.
Not too much is known about his teenage years. He promised to tell me when I was well past my own. My Dad always liked to say his kids would not get away with anything because he knew all the tricks in the book. He never said how he knew them, but my sisters and I have our educated guesses. Rumor has it: my Dad was a hellion.
|My Dad. Apparently we look and sound a LOT alike.|
His life after law school is filled with adventures: working for Burleson, Pate, and Gibson, cornering my mom at a party, traveling a little bit, working and swimming with the Masters swim program. He's been extremely lucky. You see, my dad does what he loves for a living. He has lived out the idea that if you do what you love you'll never work a day in your life. Sometimes he has good days and somedays he has bad days. When he has good days he likes to compare himself to an old gunslinger.
He's the rare kind of Dad, I realize, that I want to show off. It's kind of funny because he's still embarrassing and I don't know anyone else who can embarrass me as much as him, but I swear to all my friends that he's a cool dad. He never compromised to be cool either. He may have taken us out to restaurants, coached me in swimming, and heaped praise on me at his office but he was never afraid to have a stern conversation. I remember plenty of times I was reprimanded not only for doing something wrong, but for lying about it. It was the one thing he (and my mom!) would be really upset about. I could do wrong, but if I lied about it I was in way more trouble than the beginning.
|Always keep a photo of my fam on the wall here. Sorry you're missing Alex!|
My dad reads an absurd amount. I mean, it's honestly impressive when I think about it. Rooms full of books and so many books my mom goes crazy from time to time. He instilled that love of reading with me and my sisters. At night, when we were young, he would read out loud classics like Frank Herbert's Dune or Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit or the BFG outloud to us. I used to get really mad cause after he finished reading outloud he would read the ending of the book and then just kinda get lost in the book itself. He's a science fiction NUT. He's read tons of Frank Herbert, Phillip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, and so much more. He says his only vice is books. You can't fault him for any major thing EXCEPT for his books. He always promised he'd try and keep up with us kids too. He'd read whatever we were reading.
I remember when I was in my senior year of high school. That winter had been especially brutal since there was a very tough breakup I went through. The kind of breakup I had to share with my parents through tears and who, without their love and support, might have affected my year as a whole. It was the State finals for swimming. I went over the events I was supposed to swim with my Dad. He explained to me that in order to get the time I needed for my 100 Back I was going to have to "do something crazy." What did I go do? I hopped in that water, I gave it everything I had. I got my time. When I came back you know what he said?
"I goofed up. Technically you didn't have to do something that crazy, but you did a helluva job!" Classic Dad.
Yeah. He's my idol. He knows a little bit about everything. He's always optimistic. He plays aloof a lot, but he's actually got a plan most of the time. He loves kids of almost all ages. He found his passion and has never stopped doing it. In fact, I've come to realize just how important it is to him that his children pursue their passions as well. Between my sister going to seminary and me serving abroad for a year you would think he'd be frustrated we didn't put our liberal arts degrees to better use but he couldn't be happier (at least I hope so.) He drives my mother and sisters crazy. He always forgets my friends' names and he only knows how to say 'muy abogado' in Spanish. Did you know a family friend of ours in Israel told all his friends: "If you get into trouble in the States, Tom can help you. You call Tom." My Dad's an international lawyer. How cool is that?
In honor of my father I'd like to share some of the things he's instilled in me after all these years:
1. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
No matter what you're doing, at least do it consistently. That way nobody can say you weren't reliable.
2. If you laugh at your own jokes, you'll always have someone who thinks your funny.
He's technically not wrong.
3. Everything is connected and everything has consequences.
4. Dad jokes will never go out of style.
5. It doesn't matter what you believe, a church community is a strong community to grow up in.
6. Honesty (and communication) is key.
7. 90% of going to college is showing up to class and taking notes. That's all.
8. Stay in school for as long as humanly possible.
9. Some is good, more is better. - Okay, I don't always think this is a good idea. But you should see him come home with groceries.
10. Always invest in people.
He taught me all these things either by saying them out loud or showing me through example. I'll never forget the countless swim practices he's coached me through, all the screenplays he's read, and all the speeches he's given. He'd lecture me on American History the night before AP US History exams. I always like to get people in front of him to see what he thinks. He reads people particularly well (I call it applied empathy.) He's my Dad and I wouldn't be where I am without his guidance. I look back on the opportunities I have and I realize the true depth of my blessing. My Father somehow did just the right amount of work to raise some pretty decent kids, all things considered. Here's to you Dad! I'm sure we'll Skype soon so no need to worry about it.
I love you! I'll see you soon enough!
P.S. Mom you're the saving grace for my goofball of a Dad so I owe you just as much as I owe him. Love you!
|These are my parents when they were close to my age. Love you guys!|