Things My Dad Taught Me

My dad is on my mind again. The last three nights, I’ve had dreams about him. One night, I was Karate-chopping my soon-to-be stepmother. Another night, I ran into his arms sobbing. The third I have a hard time remembering, but I understand why my dad’s been on my mind. His birthday is coming up on February 9 and he would be 60-something, an age he would never want to be. 

Getting old was never something my dad wanted to do. In fact, my dad would often tell my mother that the men in his family don’t live past 50. He died when he was 51. But what are these dreams trying to teach me?

Well, one thing my dad taught me was to drive fast. He said if you get pulled over, you should get two tickets–one for speeding and one for getting caught.

My dad taught me to love 80s New Wave music. His favorite was Depeche Mode. I didn’t realize it was strange that while my friends’ parents were listening to Don Henley and Michael Bolton on the local soft rock/adult contemporary station, my dad was listening to New Order and The Cure on the alternative music station.

My dad gave me his taste for spicy food. In fact, he used to eat whole jalapenos as snacks. His office mini-fridge had only two items in it–Diet Coke and jalapenos.

My dad taught me the importance of work ethic. We’d listen to Ken Blanchard books on tape about management skills and leadership. It’s funny, but I never made the connection until now that I now work in that industry of personal development books and management and leadership materials.

I can think of many more things that my dad taught me but as I rack my brain, I simply tear up. I miss him and that’s why he’s been on my mind and in my dreams. I had my dad for 19 years–not nearly long enough to teach me all the things he could–but certainly enough to make me who I am.

I’m proud that I’m like my dad, even though–like everyone–he had his faults. But the challenge of adulthood is recognizing those faults and remedying them to make myself a better person. That’s what personal development is–improving ourselves, learning from others’ mistakes and becoming who we were meant to be. My God, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and I have my dad to thank.


Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

Leave a Comment