Fifty Things I Learned From My Dad

Dad and me in 1950

Dear Dad,

Happy 90th Birthday!  Fifteen years ago today, when we celebrated your 75th birthday and I celebrated my 40th birthday, I told you that we only had 25 years to go, until you turned 100 and I would turn 65 and we could then go golfing together every day.  Today, God willing, we only have ten years to go, until we will again have a big party to celebrate those major milestones in each of lives.

Dad, all of my life I have wanted to be just like you.  You have always been my Hero.  You have always been my role model.  You have always been my definition of what the Lord intended a man to be like.  You have always been brave.  You have always been kind-hearted.  You have always been friendly.  You have always been willing to help others.  You have always loved Jesus.  You have always had an encouraging word for others when they needed it.  You have always had wise counsel.  You always worked hard.  You always provided for your family.  You have always loved my mother.  You have always been a good husband and a good father and a good son and a good brother.  You have always done what is right.  I have always been proud to call you my Dad!

As a special gift to you, I have made a list of “Fifty Things I Learned from My Dad.”  Once you have read the list, you may want to make me a “List of things that I wished my son would have learned.”  It is never too late to learn.  In fact, Dad you have been, are today and will continue to be my most favorite teacher.

Today I wish you a very Happy Birthday.  I thank the Good Lord for giving you 90 years of life.  90 years that you have used to be a blessing to your family and friends, to your church, to your community, to your country, and through your generous giving to many people throughout the world who you will first meet in heaven.

May the Lord continue to bless you and give you good health and if it pleases the Lord may we indeed celebrate your 100th birthday and my 65th birthday ten years from today.

Love from your admiring son,

Robert

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  1. You made it easy for me to believe that my Heavenly Father is loving because my earthly father has always been loving.
  2. You taught me to love our country—from a small boy I knew that living in our country was special.  I still get a lump in my throat every time our National Anthem is sung.
  3. You taught me that the values of our country, like freedom, are worth fighting for.  I have always been so proud that you fought in WWII and that you made the Normandy invasion.  You were a good soldier.
  4. You taught me the way to plant a straight row or plow a straight furrow is to keep two distance points of reference in line.  You know that is true in life also….the only way to stay right is to have a reference point outside of ourselves.
  5. You taught me to think ahead.  I still remember standing outside of our hog barn before we went over to the silos to feed the cattle.  You would ask me to think about anything we might need over there that was here.  Do we need a hammer, or a fork, or a shovel?  We don’t want to get over there and then realize that we forgot to bring something we needed from here.  That is also good advice for life in general.
  6. You taught me to make each step count.  In the middle of the day, if something broke and we needed to go to town to get a part, you would always stop at the house and ask Mom if there was anything she needed in town that we could pick up for her.  There was no point in making two trips to town if we could get it all on one trip.
  7. You taught me that just hearing: “It is not so bad.  You will be all right.” Is still the best medicine whenever anyone gets hurt.
  8. You taught me safety first.  You preached safety all the time.  “Be careful” were words I heard a lot. And as a result, I still have all my fingers and toes and never broke a bone as I grew up working on the farm.
  9. You taught me to be generous with what we have been given because I always saw your generosity whenever there was an opportunity to give.
  10. You taught me how to cut out the eye teeth of piglets.
  11. You taught me how to kill a whole nest of rats by plugging all of their holes with mud and then hooking a hose to the exhaust pipe of a pickup or car and running it into one of their holes.
  12. You taught me that a man’s word is better than a contract.  Even before there was “Promise Keepers” you were a promise keeper.
  13. You taught me that it is not how much someone makes that determines their financial wealth, but how much they save.  You always said, “There are lots of people who make more money than we do, but who have less than we do because they spend all they make and save nothing.”
  14. You taught me how to smile.  People always say, “Arnett has a wonderful smile.”  A smile costs you nothing, but it brightens the world around you.
  15. You taught me to always be willing to give a helping hand.
  16. You taught me how to gather eggs.
  17. You taught me how to shoot a gun and even more importantly how to safely handle a gun.
  18. You taught me how to hunt pheasants.
  19. You taught me how to hunt jackrabbits at night.
  20. You taught me how to drive—-starting at age two when I had to kneel on the seat of the pickup and steer as it idled along in super low and you threw bails of hay off the back to feed the cows.
  21. Because of you I have always loved the land and seeing things grow.  Whenever I am planting things in my yard I just have this feeling that there still is some “farm” in me.
  22. You taught me how to change my own oil.
  23. You taught me how to fix fence
  24. You taught me how to speak slowly and clearly.  You always helped me practice my Christmas Piece.  Even today, when I speak, I still speak slowly and clearly.  My interpreters in Russia and Cuba always tell me that I am easy to interpret for because I speak slowly and clearly.
  25. Some might think that I learned to speak to groups from my involvement in high school debate.  That certainly helped.  But as a small boy, I remember seeing you teach Sunday School or be the Sunday School Superintendent.   You were never uncomfortable speaking in front of a group of people.  Your speaking roles were actually a model for me.
  26. You taught me how to make homemade ice cream.
  27. You taught me how to catch and kill a mouse by using a 1 by 10 board (about two feet long) and a small piece of wood to set a trap.  Then when the mouse runs under the board you step on the board and you have caught and killed the mouse.  I did this once at a cabin we were staying at with the McDowell’s.  The McDowell kids and my kids still talk about me catching and killing that mouse today.
  28. You taught me how to pop popcorn.
  29. You taught me how to stack hay—which now has become a lost art.
  30. You taught me to always be appreciative for all that we have been given.
  31. You taught me how to change a tire.
  32. You taught me how to run my Lionel Train that I received when I was about three or four.
  33. You taught me to honor my father and mother by modeling how you have always honored your father and mother.  Even long after they had moved on to Heaven, you still are motivated to conduct yourself in a way that honors them.
  34. You taught me that a good name is more precious than Silver and Gold.  You have always had a good name.
  35. You taught me how to grease machinery.
  36. You taught me that sometimes you have to take calculated risks—like when you bought more land.
  37. You taught me how to paint.
  38. You taught me how to shovel manure.  Not everything in life is fun.  There are just some things that have to be done.
  39. You taught me how to love my wife, by the way in which you have always loved my Mom.
  40. You taught me that a good day on the golf course is any day that you find more golf balls than you lose.
  41. You taught me how to take my thumb off.  I will never master this trick as well as you have.  But I have always had fun watching you mesmerize little kids with this trick.
  42. You taught me how to ride a bicycle.
  43. You taught me to work hard.  I remember the first time I went over to work for someone else, you told me to work hard to earn the money I would be paid so that I would be hired again.
  44. You taught me punctuality.  You always show up early.  Because of you, so do I.
  45.  You taught me to believe in myself because all of your affirming words gave me confidence that I could do anything that I put my mind to.
  46. You taught me to be generous because I always saw your generosity.
  47. You taught me that there needs to be a place for everything and everything in its place.  Our farm always had order to it.
  48. You taught me to always say, “Thank You.”
  49. Your investment in my life has paid off, because many of the things you taught me, I have in turn passed on to my children.  Not things like stacking hay, but things like giving them words of affirmation for the good things they each do.
  50. I love our Heavenly Father more, because of your love for Him.

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My Dad and me in 2005

Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on CRU and is featured here with permission.

Bob Tiede
Bob Tiedehttps://leadingwithquestions.com/
BOB has been on the staff of Cru for 45 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 6 remarkable grandchildren.
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Jane Anderson

Thank you for sharing this Bob. I love the 50 things, but your letter to your dad was so touching. I, too, thank God for his 90 years and the spiritual legacy he created and continues to live out for his family. Wonderful article. I wrote my blog to my dad last year on Father’s Day. I’m thankful for fathers who shared the gospel even when it wasn’t popular. My dad only lived 56 years. He would have been 100 this year.

Lynn Forrester-Pitocco

Hello Bob, your article I am sure has touched the hearts of many readers, as is obvious by the comments below. I truly wish all parents could somehow be told of the good things they did and what we were able to teach our children, even if it was just one thing. To honor a parent, regardless of the situation through life is a tribute to character of knowing what is right and wrong and according to the Commandments of God, “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother”. I lost my mom at 13 and my father at 59. Your article has sparked a new writing for me. Thank you

Larry Tyler

Very touching article. Special place in heaven for Dads

Sandy Chernoff

A very touching article, Bob and aren’t you lucky to still have your Dad around to enjoy and I hope you both get to enjoy each other for many, many more years.

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