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When I was a child, my dad never allowed me to say “can’t” or to believe I couldn’t do something. If I said, “I can’t do it” he would remind me I can do anything I choose to do. I guess he was right, but it made me angry. I’m not even sure what it means. Maybe it means “can’t” is a burden and carries a heavy load.

My first book was dedicated to him. He never got to see it published, but he knew I had written a complete novel. As a kid, every summer when I was out of school, he made me write daily. It didn’t matter what it was, but I had to sit down and write something. (My brother too.) It didn’t stop at writing though, for he also made me do math problems. Yuck. I don’t like math to this day. Could it be my dad had a small glimpse into the future, knowing one day I’d be a writer? Did he somehow know that I’d always write through the summer, and now when I’m out of work, I write novels instead of short little writings?

My dad didn’t like when I thought I couldn’t do something and he spent a lot of time trying to make me realize I could. In fact, he must have said it so much that I caught myself saying it to a student when I worked. I sure got a strange look from him. I explained to the student that he could do anything he chose to do. Dad would be proud!

Little things through life bring back different memories of Dad. Some weren’t good. Of course, we butted heads in my teen years. I know dad wanted me to do more, and had expected more from me instead of running out with my boyfriend, or getting behind the wheel of my first car and drive, drive, drive.  One day he took a part out of my car before he went to work so it wouldn’t start. It was a punishment. When he came home from work I asked him to put the rotor back in my car. He was surprised I knew what part he had removed. He hid a smile. But again, he’s the one who had taught me to figure things out and believe I could do whatever I chose to do. Well, that day I chose to find out what part he had removed. He put it back . . . a week later.

Maybe it was his teaching that gave me the attitude that I can be strong when I have to be, and I can do what I think I can’t do. My strength has been proven over and over. When dad got sick I never thought I could take care of him the way I did. My brother helped, I’m not trying to cut him out of this. He was strong through it too. I never thought I could load a syringe with medicine and inject it into him per Hospice directions. I never thought I could sit on the floor beside his bed as his breathing came to an end. And in the very end, I never thought I could lay my head on his chest and listen to his last heart beat. Thanks to him and his preaching to me when I was a child, I’ve been able to do a lot more than I ever thought I would. I’ve learned not to give up on things I believe in, and not to say can’t, because “can’t” breaks wagons down.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you.