It's not about how much money he brings home,
but the fact that he provides for his family the best that he can.
It's not about how much time he spends with his kids,
but about how he makes every minute of that time count.
It's not about how tall or handsome he is,
but about how beautiful and valuable he makes his children feel.
It's not about how educated he is;
it's about how he supports his children to be the best and most educated that they can be.
It's not about how much "stuff" he has,
but about his ability to instill a good work ethic and an attitude of gratitude in his children.
It's not about how strong he is,
but about how he chooses to model strength in grace and mercy.
My dad wasn't particularly "successful" in the eyes of the world. He didn't have a big retirement fund saved up, or a fancy house or car or retirement time-share. He wasn't famous, nor educated, nor "accomplished." His blue-collar career was spent entirely in a small northern Alberta town.
But my dad has been my hero for a long time.
He taught me how to work hard. Despite working long hours and physically-draining jobs for many years, I don't ever remember him complaining about it even once. Sure, he'd mention how tired he was, but he took his responsibilities as a provider and a father very seriously. Even when his night job had him picking up trash and dragging a heavy mop across pop-stained movie theatres at 1:30 in the morning and his day job was set to begin a mere 6 hours later, still he laboured on without bellyaching his lot in life.
He taught me how to be generous. My dad gave to others in need, even when he himself didn't have a lot to spare. He put his kids' needs and wants above his own, sacrificing valuable vacation time to work so that we could actually have some semblance of a summer "holiday" every July and August. He left the choice dishes of fresh food for us to enjoy, always opting to scarf down the leftovers even when he was the hungriest of us all. He always admonished us for wasting money on him, encouraging us to save our precious dollars instead. He, however, often surprised us with gifts that he had been saving up his mah-jong winnings to buy; perfume for his "girls," and fancy laser pen gadgets, and 24k gold earrings and charms.
He taught me how to appreciate what I have. The things he cherished most were so simple, but meant so much to him: a big glass beer barrel, a cold mug of darkly steeped tea on a hot day, a nice new bar of sandalwood or lily-of-the-valley soap, a good nap on the couch, and a stroll around the mall linking arms with his daughter. He didn't want for much, and he never sat around coveting what others had. Whenever we had the opportunity to bless him with something unexpected (like his ruby ring, which we buried with him), he would brag about it for days on end because it would fill him with such pride and joy to have this treasure.
Though this will be the hardest Father's Day I've ever had and I miss him so very much, I am beyond grateful that I had nearly 38 years to learn from, and be blessed by such an amazing dad. Few people can sit down at their computer and knock out even one or two full and sincere paragraphs of praise for their fathers, much less have to self-edit because the list of awesome things would otherwise run far too long for anyone to want to read.
So to all of you who still have your daddy around, happy father's day. And give your dad a big, big hug, because I wish I could give mine one, but will need to wait until eternity for the chance again.
(The following pics obv don't match this post, but as we talk about measures of a great dad, I'd say these speak a thousand words):