I recently lost my father after a long illness. We managed to keep him home until the end. I wrote this to read at his memorial service.
My father was not a highly educated man, but he was a true student of the world. While my mother is the professional educator in the family, dad taught me the ways of the world.

Dad taught me:

  • How to ride a two-wheeler and how to patch up the inevitable skinned knee.
  • To always carry a pocketknife, it’s the most valuable tool you’ll ever have.
  • How to shoot straight, both with a rifle and with my words.
  • To respect authority, at least when they’re watching.
  • How to fix a car that won’t start and how to fix the dent you made when you got frustrated and punched the hood.
  • How to swing a hammer and how to colorfully express your feelings when you managed to smack your thumb with it.
  • To never pay someone to do something that you can do yourself, or to at least give it a shot before you call in reinforcements.
  • That a hard day’s work has a value of it’s own beyond any paycheck.
  • To take pride in the things that you create, no matter how simple or imperfect they may be.
  • That the best solution to a problem is usually the simplest one.
  • How to slow down and enjoy a laugh and a beer with friends.
  • If you’re quick to help others, others will help you when the need arises.
  • To be serious when you need to be and a clown whenever you can be.
  • Most importantly he taught me to care for my family above all else, to cherish time spent in the company of those that you love and care about.
  • He taught me how to be a man and a father.

Like his father, my dad built things. He built most of the home that we spent a good part of our lives in and helped me build mine. But the most important things that he ever built were the relationships with his family and friends.