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Editor's Notebook: The Most Important Thing I Learned From My Dad

With Father's Day coming up this weekend, O'Fallon Patch Editor Jordan Lanham shares what she learned from her dad.

My dad taught me how to drive. I can still remember one of our “practice trips” around the block, in which I somehow managed to drive our mini-van straight through our neighbor’s front yard. Yes. Straight through the yard. I parked the car in the middle of their lawn.

My dad turned to look at me and calmly asked what I was doing. I honestly replied: “I really don’t know.”

I obviously had a lot to learn. It took me some time to get the hang of it, but he kept working with me.

Driving was one of the many things I learned from my dad. (I’m still trying to learn some of his obvious patience. You have to be patient to teach a 15-year-old how to operate your car, right?)

He also taught me how to dive into a pool, get rid of brain freezes when you eat too much ice cream and numerous other lessons.

But the most important thing I learned from him, is the meaning of family.

The first time I met my dad, I was seven years old. He was a police officer, and one night while he was on duty he stopped by the house to see my mom. Being the curious, insomniac child I was, of course I hopped out of bed to sneak a peak at my mother’s new friend.

After walking in the house and tripping over my many decapitated Barbie’s in various states of undress on the floor, he saw me standing in the corner in my pajamas.

But he didn't ignore me or ask why I wasn’t in bed, as some grown-ups might have. He simply smiled and asked, “Do you really play with all those Barbies?” He spoke my language. I smiled back.

My like for him was instant. Back then I was a messy little kid and he was Eric, but for the past 15 years, he is the man I’ve called dad. He is one of the reasons I believe the word “family” has no set definition.

My dad adopted my brothers and me when I was around 10-years-old.

While I was growing up, he came to all my dance recitals to cheer me on, taught me how drive, smiled with pride at my high school and college graduations, and has helped move me in and back out of his and my mom’s house—several times.

While my biological father gave me his nose and chin, my dad gave me his time, patience, support, and love.

Even though I don’t share half of his genes, he’s my dad.  

We share the same sense of humor, a love for the Beatles and we both whistle way too much when we’re happy. (Much to my other family members’ annoyance).

This is why I believe a family is not something that is based on blood or genetics.

My dad taught me that a family is what you make it. It is built on the unique bonds, trust and love that forms between groups of people. It’s why I get to call one of the most amazing guys I know dad.

So, happy Father's Day Dad! Thanks for all you've done and continue to do for me. 

I’ve shared the greatest lesson my dad taught me, and now I'd love to hear from you! Share the greatest lesson you learned from your dad in the comments below! 

Heidi L. June 15, 2012 at 10:03 PM
So Sweet! The greatest lesson I learned from my dad probably involved money. While growing up, I thought we were 'poor'. I did not have 'named brand' unless I got it already faded as a hand me down. We didn't do vacations every year, and those we did were driving- never flew anywhere. And we rarely ate out neither fast food or sit down restaurant. The great part of that, I later learned, was a stay at home mom that cooked breakfast and dinner and packed our lunches daily. I never developed a taste for shopping. And I too drive for family vacations. I had a great childhood and learned to save money, so much that as an adult I was able to build a home next door to my parents. I am right there if they need me- though I'll never be needed for money- he's still a better saver than me, apparently we (my household) eats out way too much.
Heather O'Brien June 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM
All I can say is "ditto"!!! Great article!!!! :)
Jennifer Lograsso June 16, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Beautifully written, Jordan! What a tribute to Eric! My dad taught me that family is precious. He also showed by example to be a dependable, hard worker...he was a wonderful provider. We were never without, but we learned at a young age to have jobs for the extra things we wanted. We too learned that vacations were special, and not taken yearly. We looked forward to them and they hold great memories now looking back on them.
Paula Tarrant July 24, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Jordan, I too love your Dad dearly. He along with his brothers hold a special place in my heart. The lesson I learned from my Dad is a pure of heart love. There is nothing phoney about him. He is always there to help when a person is in need. While others talk the talk he walks the walk. And if you asked him how he does it he would tell you it was by the grace of God! Your words are beautiful Jordan.
Jordan Lanham July 24, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Thank you Paula! :)

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