Things I didn't learn from my dad:
I didn't learn to tie a fishing lure.
I didn't learn to zero in a rifle.
My dad didn't teach me to shoot a bow and arrow or which bait to use for catching bass.
However, I did learn these things from my dad:
I learned to throw a spiral, turn two on the outside of my glove, and how to shoot a jumper.
I learned that to play a sport requires dedication, work, and effort.
I learned that to go through the motions is not enough on or off the field.
I learned that to teach young players the intricacies of the game is truly a privilege and should be treated as such.
I learned that watching football is not a spectator sport.
I learned to coach with my arms crossed and my hand on my chin, just like my memories of my father coaching.
I learned that no matter how much my father loved to coach, he walked away from it to spend more time with us.
I learned that Brooks Robinson was the greatest third baseman ever to play the game, and there will be no discussion otherwise.
I learned that few memories are more precious than sitting in the upper reserve seats of Memorial Stadium as a kid with Dad watching Doug DeCinces throw his glove up in the air to knock down fly balls, except maybe sitting on the first-base side of Camden Yards as a teenager watching Cal take the field, except perhaps as an adult watching a game on the third-base side of Iron Bird Stadium and ducking foul balls with Dad.
I didn't learn how to change the oil in my car; I didn't learn to rotate my own tires, and I didn't learn to bleed my car's brakes, replace a muffler, or what in the world a "Hemi" is.
I learned that whatever was at the office that cold winter day was less important than coming home early to get into a snowball fight with my brother and then take us sledding.
I learned that regardless of the type of activity or sporting event, my father and mother would be there.
I learned that few things are more fun than standing at the top of a black diamond trail named the Jaws of Death in southern Vermont in twenty-two-degree weather with my father and brother daring each other to see who goes first.
I learned that my father's moustache freezes if it gets cold enough on the lift ride.
I learned that a solid shot off the first tee box on a crisp late September day with my brother and father along for the round is the definition of Perfect Morning.
I learned that I am a Smith, and with that comes certain expectations; it is my job to live up to them.
I learned that family is always family, even if they get on your nerves.
I learned to respect my mother always because she is not just my mom, she is my father's wife.
From my father I did not learn to run a jigsaw, I did not learn to use a nail gun, I did not learn how to build a deck or put plumbing in.
I learned that horseshoes is a competitive sport, and when my dad, "Captain Clutch," is hot, it is better to sit back and watch a true master at work, but I won't sit down because I learned never to give up—ever.
I learned it is okay to walk away from a bad situation but never to let someone chase you away.
I learned that my father was once not only thrown out of a softball game, but also out of the tournament and facility and was escorted to the city line. I tell this only to illustrate that my father made a mistake and admits it.
So I then learned my father was human and was one to take responsibility for himself.
I learned that a father who can do a front handspring can be somewhat embarrassing, but also is pretty cool.
I learned that it is better to do a lot than to have a lot, because possessions fade but memories always remain.
I learned that if Edgemere were a city, my father would be mayor.
I learned that there isn't a team he won't coach, a committee he won't sit on, and a fund-raiser he won't support as long as it helps the kids.
I learned that to serve one's community is a great undertaking but to serve one's country is truly one of the greatest.
I learned that my dad is the greatest tour guide that ever walked the paths of Disney World.
Finally, I learned that friends and family are the greatest possessions a man can have and he can never have enough.
So in closing, my dad never taught me how to hang drywall; I never learned to hunt a deer or how to flush the radiator in my car.
But that's okay because I can take a class or read a book to learn that.
I learned how to be a friend, a man, a husband, and a father. I only learned that by having an example to watch and learn from, and I had one of the best.
This story is from Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul: Celebrating the Bond That Connects Generations © 2011 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.
Cover image via wavebreakmedia I Shutterstock