Things I Learned From My Dad







Three years ago today my father passed away. At the time it wasn’t a great shock; he had been suffering from a degenerative heart condition and spent his last few months in a care home. I visited him every weekend when he was in the home, though as often happens at these times sadly the only weekend that I was unable to make proved to be his last.

I often wanted to ask him what he thought of me, of how I had turned out, what had been his hopes or expectations and whether I had met them or had disappointed. I had never really known what he had wanted for me, but I suppose those kinds of conversations rarely happen…parental responsibilities don’t come with a performance review plan.

I’m not sure if any of us ever have that kind of conversation with our parents, or how honest the answers would be.

I was talking to a friend recently about things that we learn from our fathers. Certainly I’m sure my love of football (well Arsenal!) music and politics come from him as these were passions of his. He took me to my first live football match when I was four, and we still went to some games together until the start of his illness.

It goes without saying that our parent’s hobbies and obsessions are often picked up by us, but what about personality traits and attitudes?

What things did I learn from my dad?

Firstly, hard work. I remember him telling me many times that there was no substitute for hard work if you wanted to be successful. Whenever he thought that I was easing off on school work, or when I was a little older and he was listening to some hair brained scheme to make money, he always reminded me of the value of hard work. My childhood memories of him were certainly of someone who was always working. He was an accountant with his own practice, and would spend most evenings and weekends working on clients’ accounts and tax returns. When I stumbled out of bed as a teen on the weekends I knew that the first thing I would see would be my dad with files and papers spread over the dining room table. He was dedicated, always going the extra mile to exceed his clients’ – and families – expectations.

He would always see the bigger picture in any debate, and usually offer an unusual angle. Sometimes he struggled to get others to see beyond the majority view, but he was usually unshakeable in his beliefs. There are a few people no doubt reading this who have listened to me stick to my guns on something, even if I can’t find anyone to quite see it my way! Now they know where I get it from! As well as this, he showed me that you didn’t necessarily need to like something, or agree with it, to realise its significance.

He was also non-judgemental.  A parent’s love is unconditional and my dad’s relationship with me was, I’m sure, no exception. But I made two big decisions when I was younger – one personal, one professional – that impacted on him. At the time I was headstrong and self-assured; I never approached him for advice, or to talk through my thoughts and feelings, but went ahead and made my decisions, each time telling him after they had been acted on. He never judged me, nor did he show disappointment. He told me that he had trusted me to do what I felt was right and necessary for me, though I’m sure he never understood why.

I guess that there are other things that I got from him too, but when I set out to write this blog those were the first three that came to mind – and I suspect that they are fairly good ones. I know I was lucky…I’ve met many people who either didn’t get to spend as long as they’d have liked with their fathers, or haven’t been able to look back on their childhood/adolescence with the same fondness.

I realise that this isn’t my normal blogging territory but it was something that I wanted to write about; hopefully you nice readers will indulge me 🙂 – maybe even share some of the things that you’ve learned from your fathers…

8 thoughts on “Things I Learned From My Dad

  1. Lovely Mervyn, I like the real bits of people we get. You are very fortunate indeed to have had so much time with your Dad and very fortunate to have learned from him. I learned values from mine, hard work definitely, but how to laugh at yourself, how to share, how to be bigger than any opposition, how to rise above the nasty things in life, and most of all how to love.I did have very honest conversations with my Dad and they also formed who I am today. We’re very blessed to have had positive role models in our lives, in times when this can be lacking for so many. Celebrate the memories and thanks for sharing them.

  2. Mervyn – Unfortunately I only got to meet your Dad after his illness had started, but still early enougfh to have seen glimpses of what he was like. Having seen the two of you together I am certain that you have no need to worry about what he thought of you. He was the kind of Dad we all aspire to be – with unconditional love and support for his children (though that may have been tested if you ended up a Spurs supporter!). He would have thought that the fact that you chose the paths in personal and professional life that you did shows that you are an independent thinker, doing what was best for you and not taking the easy route. That is what you are made of and part of your Dad too.

    Our parents by definition are of a different generation. Attitudes and lifestyles change – just because you can never have seen your parents do what you have done doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have done those things if they would have lived their lives in our times.

    My lasting memory of a glimpse of the real man that was your Dad was at Loftus Road. We had enjoyed some prawn sandwich brigade hospitality and you had placed a small wager on Kenny Sampson scoring and a 1 – 0 score line. The final whistle had gone, your bet was a winner and we were at the Ladbrokes counter for you to collect your winnings. As people streamed out in their thousands past us the person behind the counter said he couldn’t pay out until the game was over! I won’t repeat the words, but the cutting sarcasm showed the wit and strength of character that was just a glimpse of your Dad.

    1. Thanks Damon, great insight. I remember that game…and I seem to recall I had two bets that night. It was the one on Arsenal to lose 2-0 (the only time I ever put a bet on Arsenal losing) that won, with Rangers scoring the second late in the game. But you’re right…he was on good form that night 🙂

  3. Mervyn, these type of posts are why I love blogs. There are loads that just write about business and what they think other people need to do or learn from . By taking a personal moment and sharing that with us, you’ve done something far greater….shared your father’s legacy. He sounds like an amazing man and someone very special to you. Knowing you, I can see that you picked up many of his traits.

    Some of what you write sounds like situations I’ve experienced with my own father. Always being independent, I wanted to show him I could accomplish things requiring big decisions without much input from him. Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate that relying on his strength and wisdom has served me far better than when I’ve gone it alone. Here’s a link to what I’ve shared on my blog about my father.

    Raising a glass to toast two wonderful influencers…your dad and mine!

    1. Most definitely glasses need raising Trish! Shame I can’t be in Vegas for a toast this weekend 😦 I had forgotten about your post and am glad that you have re-posted it…it’s lovely!

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