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!