5 Things My Dad Taught Me

Boy, was he handsome!

What can I say about my Dad? He was many things to me- father, role model, confidante and best friend. In my earliest recollections of him and in pictures, he was a happy go lucky guy, a huge presence with a big voice and a firm handshake. Everyone knew him as “Big Mike”. He had many friends, he loved to dance and he knew how to have a good time.

Dad was 6’4″ tall, a BIG GUY and he and my mom together raised three daughters. This, I think, must have been his worst nightmare at times, as his parents were Greek immigrants and Greeks, in my opinion, are STRICT with their daughters! He was no exception to this fanatical rule.

Here are some special things I remember about my dad. When he finally gave me permission to go to the prom in eleventh grade, there were tears in his eyes (initially he told me NO), he brought a football to the hospital when my son was born (remember, he had three daughters), he took me to car auctions where we ate hot dogs and sauerkraut (my mom hated sauerkraut and never made it!). Also, he loved chocolate covered peanuts and bushels of hard shell crabs.

Here are the 5 most important things my Dad taught me:

1. Love people for who they are. My Dad sold cars made in Japan (Nissans) when they first came to the USA. He was a top turret gunner in the Air Force during WWII but he held no prejudices.

2. Live Life to the fullest. Work hard but play hard and enjoy yourself. Dad loved to invite his buddies over for loud Greek music, shots of Ouzo and midnight dancing in the living room.

3. Have integrity. I sold cars with him for a few years. Once, I made a bottom line deal on a car and the buyers pulled out a newspaper ad for $100 off any car. I was ticked. My Dad said, “Honor it”.

4. There is no substitution for good salesmanship. Dad would look people in the eye, compliment them and always find something of common interest to talk about. To this day, my sisters and I share this character trait and I know we got it from him.

5. Do what you say. If he told you he was going to be somewhere at a certain time, he was there. He did not go back on a promise. He taught us to be on time, be responsible and STEP UP.

Dad passed away 15 years ago on Father’s Day, 1997. When I tell people this it always brings forth a sad comment. But at that time, I saw his humor in choosing that day to go. I could just picture him saying, “You’ll not forget me now!” Truly Dad, that would be impossible.

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18 thoughts on “5 Things My Dad Taught Me

  1. Diana Stavroulakis

    Joanne,

    Although I wasn’t fortunate enough to have met your Father, I now know that I have met a part of him through you and Cally. As you wrote the life-lessons he taught you, I was immediately drawn to number four. You’re right: you and Cally have this remarkable trait. You both take an interest in making a genuine connection with people. By looking for that common ground, you both have the ability to make a new friend feel very comfortable, and more like an “old friend.” This is a gift.

    I’m very close to my Dad and, yes, he was a strict “Greek Dad” while I was growing up. Perhaps they are this way because they know it takes time to find men of the same caliber. (I remain hopeful!) 🙂

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tribute to your Dad today.

    Diana

    Reply
    1. KatherinesDaughter

      Dear Diana, Thank you for your lovely words! It is always good to hear from you and I am sure, having a Greek Dad, you can relate to alot of what I said! We need to get together again soon- let’s try for it in July!…

      Reply
  2. Marianne

    What a loving tribute, Joanne. Your father sounds like a wonderful man, who gave you honorable teachings to live by. True, it would be hard to forget him on Father’s Day now.

    Blessings,
    Marianne

    Reply
    1. KatherinesDaughter

      Marianne, it is always good to hear from you! Yes, he was a wonderful man and as I get older, I realize more and more what he taught me! Love, Joanne

      Reply
  3. lhertneky@verizon.net

    What a wonderful tribute to an outstanding guy! I loved your Dad. He always made me feel so welcome in your home and was always happy to see me. He also did his best to teach an awkward clumsy non-Greek how to dance with a smile on my face, and his. And yes, I certainly know he was strict, but deep-down had such a soft spot when it came to all of his girls. I was certainly blessed to know him. Thanks for sharing these posts. I enjoy them all!

    xo,
    Laurie

    Reply
    1. KatherinesDaughter

      Laurie, what warm memories of my Dad. Thank you so much! He did have a soft spot and I remember it well. Blessings to you and your father this weekend!
      Love, Joanne

      Reply
  4. Kathy

    Hi Joanne – What a wonderful tribute! I remember your dad so well and you describe him to the tea. I loved the times you shared your Greek heritage with us; your dad and Uncle Bill really made parties fun. Goes to show that when you are happy with yourself, life can be wonderful.

    I am thankful that i still have my wonderful dad, who is still “taking care of his little girl”.At 85 he still attends all of the grandkids’ activities and comes to cook dinner for us at least once a week.I was in my late 20s when I got married and a lot of my cousins were getting divorced at the time and I remember a conversation as my dad drove me to work (oh yea, did I mention he carted me around to the office and newspaper assignments for years) one morning. I said, “Daddy, what if it doesn’t work out?” and his reply was, “Well, of course you would come home, even with a bunch of kids.” Fortunately after almost 26 years I still have a great husband and 4 special children to call mine.

    Both of our dad’s were strict back then. But, now aren’t you glad?! That is what the kids of today need – parents who can say NO and mean it.

    Keep sharing Joanne. I love to remember our childhoods together. I am thankful I had you for a best friend – Kathy

    Reply
    1. KatherinesDaughter

      Kathy, I have thought of you many times as I write my blog stories. We shared so much of growing up together and I am grateful for the friendship we had and still have. Thank you so much for your beautiful comments! And Happy Father’s Day to your DAD!! Love, Joanne

      Reply
  5. cindy neuschwander

    What am awesome Father’s Day post!! The things you remember your dad teaching you touched must heart! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. KatherinesDaughter

      Thanks for your comments Cindy! Sometimes we don’t realize the gifts until we are older…

      Reply

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