CHERISH YOUR FATHER…

I love sweets. Chocolate bars, candy, ice cream, pies and cakes I love them all, but for the longest time my guilty pleasure was Long Johns. From a teenager until my early thirties I couldn’t walk into a Safeway, without walking out with at least one chocolate covered long john.

I’ve found many other treats taste sweeter, yet long johns were my favourite, partially because my late father shared the same love affair with them; except he devoured the maple ones. When I think of the number thirteen, the term “baker’s dozen” always pops into my head, and this past week I’ve been thinking a lot about the number 13.

Thirteen years ago today, my father, William Arthur Gregor, passed away at the young age of 56. His heart gave out in his car at a red light in Sherwood Park. He had quit smoking a few years earlier, wasn’t a heavy drinker or overweight, but unfortunately it was his time.

Five days later, the morning of his funeral, I was nervous, solemn and agitated, and for an unexplained reason I decided to write an email to my close friends. I had bottled up a lot of my feelings the previous few days, and let them out in the email. I asked for their prayers, but at the end of the email I asked them for one favour.

I never got to say goodbye to my father, and I asked them if they could call their fathers, or give them a hug and tell them they loved him. I hoped that through their actions my father would know how much I truly loved and respected him.

Today, after you’ve read this, I hope you can find the time to do the same.

Unlike the previous years that I wrote about my father, this year my thoughts and emotions are much different. I still miss seeing his smile, hearing his laugh and experiencing his genuine zest for life, but this year I feel a new connection, and sadly, also an incredible longing for him.

In ten weeks, my lovely wife Traci and I will become parents. I have so many new emotions stirring inside, and even though I haven’t met the little boy or girl yet, we want it to be a surprise; I already feel an incredible connection to him/her.

I can only imagine what it will feel like the first time we meet. Like most first-time fathers my mind wanders wondering if I’ll know what to do. Will I be patient enough? Will I be able to be firm when necessary, and tender when needed? It’s a mixture of unadulterated excitement, and a bit of trepidation.

Since I found out Traci was pregnant, I’ve started reading articles and books that I never would have read before. I’ve saved many articles with tips on raising children, mainly teenagers, you can never start preparing too early, and I’ve learned some great stuff.

However, as I prepare myself for the joy and wonder of fatherhood, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what made my dad such a great father to me and my siblings.

I thought it would be impossible to pinpoint one action that made him a great father, but after hundreds of memories of him flooded my mind these past few weeks, I found myself always coming back to one simple, yet incredibly powerful, action; love.

Dad rarely said, “I love you,” but he showed it regularly and usually unconditionally. Mostly I remember that he loved my mother, and I’ve realized that watching my father treat my mother in a loving fashion has had a profound impact on every aspect of my life.

It seems simple, and that is the beauty of it.

In John Medina’s book, Brain Rules, he breaks down how the human brain works. Why are some people “smarter” than others? The theory of “genius born” or “genius made” has been debated for years, but Medina had a very unique response on the topic.

He wrote: “A man once asked me, ‘how can I get my son into Harvard?’ “Go home and love your wife, was my answer.”

Too often we expect the answers to life’s questions to be profoundly deep, or that they will challenge us to do something extraordinary. Many times the simple, non sexy answer is best.

Over the past 13 years I’ve spent countless hours re-living the memories of my father, usually with a combination of laughter and tears, and I’ve started to realize that most of them involved him demonstrating how to love his family, specifically my mother.

My parents had a whirlwind, fairytale romance. They met at the post office in Grande Cache, Alberta. They went on a date the next day, were engaged three weeks after that and got married four months later.

Were they in love with each other? 100% percent, but did they know how to love each other? No, because love should be a verb, not a noun. They discovered how to let their love evolve and grow throughout their marriage.

Three months after dad passed, I walked into the farm house and found my mom sitting in the back entrance, tears running down her face, staring at an ice scraper. I asked her what was wrong, and she started to laugh/cry. 

Every winter morning when he left for work, Dad would scrape the ice/frost off of her car and start it for her. Every morning she said. She couldn’t believe how much a small thing meant to her and how much those little things mean in a relationship/friendship. She cried because she wasn’t sure she had ever told him how much she appreciated that. 

Gentlemen, never stop doing the little things for your partner, common law partner or your wife, and ladies if you have a wonderful man in your life, don’t hesitate to tell him how much his small acts of kindness mean to you. 

My father was rarely in a bad mood. He was always smiling, but when he needed to be the disciplinarian he knew how to get my attention. I only recall getting one real spanking in my life. I was 11 years old, and I had stolen some money out of my mom’s purse. Not a smart move on my part. 

I don’t remember how I got caught, but I do remember suffering the consequences. It was over quick, but I received the message loud and clear. Strangely enough, after the lecture and few well-deserved smacks on the rearend, it is one of the few times I vividly remember my father saying, “I love you, son.” 

Thinking back, I’m sure he didn’t like handing out that spanking, but I needed to be taught a lesson, however, before I left the room he wanted me to know he still loved me. I’ve yet to experience that rollercoaster (loving them emphatically, but having to hand out fair discipline) of “parenting” emotion, but when I do I hope I can find the right delivery. 

Being a great father is one of the toughest jobs in the world. I truly appreciate watching men who take the time to be involved in their children’s lives, who aren’t afraid to show them how to love, but also are willing to teach their kid’s good life lessons. 

Men rarely tell one another they are doing a great job as a husband and father, but I see it all the time and I truly want to say thank you. We need more of it the world, now more than ever, so if a man in your life or inner circle is doing a great job, politely let them know. They will appreciate it more than you know.

ROLE MODELS…

My father was my first role model. I truly wanted to be like him. I mimicked him so often that I even learned how to speak like Donald Duck from him. Nowadays I’m lucky to have four men in my immediate family that I can learn and watch from. 

My older brother Colin has many of my father’s traits. He’s a loving husband and father, and rarely misses attending his children’s activities. My brother-in-law Eric does the same, and watching a man truly love your little sister, who I always felt the need to quietly protect, is very comforting. 

I’ve also gotten to know Traci’s brother Rob, and I’m proud to say he’s a good man. He’s a car nut, and in between playing house and dolls with his two daughters, he’s found a way to get them to enjoy watching Nascar with him. Quite the unique combination. 

Doug, my father-in-law is very healthy conscious. He eats well, exercises often and is a great example of why being healthy is important. He also was, and is, a great father to my wife. Being a good father to your grown daughters makes life easier and more enjoyable for their husbands. 

Most dads cringe at the thought of their baby girl marrying a guy someday, and I’m sure Doug had a few sleepless nights after I proposed only six months after meeting Traci, haha. 

My annual letter has always come from a son’s perspective, and I think it is important for men to express our gratitude to our fathers because we rarely do. However, over the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to experience how important a father’s love and respect to his daughter can be for her, but also her husband. 

He taught Traci self-respect, showed her through his actions to his wife, Cheryl, and to her how a woman should be loved. She was a “daddys girl,” but not in a spoiled way. He taught her good life lessons on how to balance a cheque book, make her own payments, treat people with kindness, but like my father, at the root of their relationship was undying love. 

I learned, often subconsciously it turns out, through my father’s actions how to love a woman, and Traci learned how to be loved by a man. I believe that has helped make our marriage much easier. 

SHARE WITH THEM…

It is great to see fathers introduce their children to the things he loves, as well as spending time doing what they love. Make sure do that. When I was 14 I loved Motley Crue. On the way to my hockey games dad would let me crank up their music, but often on the way home or on other trips he exposed me to the music he loved. I’ve a huge fan of Motown, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and others because of that. Whenever I hear one of their songs I smile, because it reminds me of my father. 

Take the time to make lifelong memories with your children. I can speak from experience that having those memories of my father does lessen the void in my heart now that he is gone. 

Make sure you take some time to connect with your children. They might never tell you, but our parents are our first and most important role models. You can help shape your son or daughter’s future in a positive manner, usually just by giving them your time. 

Put down your cell phone and stop texting, tweeting, facebooking, instagraming or emailing and connect with them and your significant other. We all desire that attention and connection, and I firmly believe those moments revitalize us and allow us to keep working hard. 

Thanks in advance to those who follow through on my request to hug or call your father. My sincere condolences to those who have lost your father. I hope that the memories of him are still alive in your heart today. If your father is gone make sure you call your mother, because the void in her heart is likely much deeper than yours. 

Dad, I still love you deeply. I miss hearing you talk like Donald Duck, your laugh and most of all your love. Please watch over all of my family, friends, my lovely wife Traci, your soon-to-be 7th grandchild and especially your soulmate; Mom. 

Love, your son, Jason 

P.S— If you are feeling a bit awkward about calling your father, take a moment and watch this. You might be surprised to learn that you’ll feel as much happiness about sharing your gratitude with him as he will get about hearing it.

  • Supernova

    Jason,

    I want to commend you on taking the time to write and convey your thoughts and emotions.

    I am glad that you look at the others around you and see the positives that they bring and Instill in the lives they touch.

    I am blessed to have my dad still, it has taken some work and time but we have become great friends. I truly feel blessed to have my first child and have them interact with their grandparents.

  • Zipdot

    My dad is so absorbed with his new bride, who is two years younger than his youngest child (me, I’m 32), that I’m worried I’ll never be able to have a normal conversation with him again… Dunno what to do. They got married this year but have been dating for 5 years, and in that time, I haven’t been able to go for a beer with him one time, like we used to do.

    So aggravating. She’s the devil. She actively works against me and my sister, trying to block us out of his life. And for what!? Dunno, she just wants him separated from us at all costs….

    Sucks. 🙁

  • Jason Gregor

    Thanks for all your kind words. If you never had a great relationship with your father, make sure you have a better one with you kids. That is what my father did, and I’m eternally grateful for that.

  • smiliegirl15

    It will be 11 years in October since my dad has been gone. The most important thing he ever gave me was self esteem. I grew up on a farm too and being the oldest, he taught me it didn’t matter that I was a girl, I could do whatever I wanted to do, be whomever I wanted to be. He broke any gender role that might have existed out there for me. He may have just wanted a number one farmhand but that worked out well for me in the long run.

    You will become a dad about the same time my sister in law will give birth to their third child. I see my two brothers with their kids and know they learned a thing or two about being a good dad from our dad.

    My brother Jason plays on the floor with his kids like our dad did with us.

    My brother Greg takes his little guy, who’s just a year, on the tractor / combine / sprayer with him. That was one of all of our favourite places to be – with our dad, wherever he was.

    Be with your kids, play with your kids, build up their self esteem without making them arrogant. Don’t be too busy to have time for them because that’s all they really want from you, your time. Our dad is gone but all three of us have memories of the time he spent with us. He gave us the tools he could to become the adults we are. He may never have gotten to see his grandchildren but they certainly reap the benefits of his having been there for us.

  • Eulers

    Jason,
    This is an annual tradition I really appreciate. Congrats on the upcoming arrival of your first child. Don’t be shy about sharing your insights. Fatherhood isn’t too far away on the horizon for myself and I have a lot to learn!

  • Eulers

    Thanks Jason and congrat’s.

    I’m working on my second young family. The easiest and best change I’ve made this time around is to maintain a sense a humour, which leads to patience.

    Tying into this, I’ve added a ‘why not’ into my thought process when fielding their requests. Being of old-school, this was hard to do, but not too hard.

  • Micbilly99

    Jason, great tradition and congrat’s on the new arrival. Fatherhood is tough, challenging and plain old awesome. Trust your instincts but mainly trust your heart and you will do your father proud!

  • Oilitsinyoutogive

    My dads one of the reasons I started to follow this site. Every year you write this type of article. It always made me think and call my dad or try and go spend some time with him. He passed away last year and this is the first time I’ve caught one these since it happened. Must say you can stir some emotion surely! Great story and i like the way you tell it. Missed but not forgotten, gone but still shown in our actions

  • RyanCoke

    I honestly look forward to this piece every year. I usually do not agree with you regarding the Oil. But, I can’t agree with you more regarding this topic. Every year it reminds me of how lucky I am to have a phenomenal father.

    Being a father of two boys this article reminds of the father I want to be. Its equally as important to be a good husband.

    I’m Sorry for your loss, I truly love the piece you write about your father every year.Thank you.