Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lessons I Learned From Dad…

Ben and his Papa at one of their favorite places, the beach.

My dad may not be a tall man, but he is larger-than-life.  His laughter and smile can light up a room.  His boundless energy and zest for adventure allow him to run circles around much younger men (sometimes literally).  While I may not have inherited my dad’s adventurous spirit, there are many other parts of him that I see inside myself.

My dad is an explorer.  He cannot stay in one place for too long, so it’s only natural that our family traveled a lot (and we still do).  Because of this, I have always loved to visit new places.  Some people like to accumulate material items, but I prefer to save my money for family experiences that we will always remember.  I have passed this love of travel on to my son.  Children on the autism spectrum like routine and predictability in their lives, but Ben seems to make an exception when it comes to going to new places.  He is always up for an adventure, even if it’s going to a “new McDonalds”.  Every morning he asks, “What are we going to do today?”  He has flown airplanes since before he could crawl, so he has always known that new places hold excitement and, often, people he loves.

My dad is a very hard worker.  When I was a little girl, he supported our family with three jobs, which included washing windows.  Now he owns two businesses in two different cities.  I learned from this example and, as a result, I’ve never been afraid to roll up my sleeves and get to work.  I tackle new projects head-on, which includes helping find the best therapies and supports for my son.  When Ben was first diagnosed with autism, I spent very little time mourning the label.  Instead, I got busy researching and learning all that I could about how to help him.  Along with this, my dad knows how to have fun and enjoy life.  He is a loving and giving person who always puts God first, and I aspire to approach all people and situations with that same loving spirit.

Finally, my dad, along with my mom, taught me what it means to be a good spouse and parent.  My parents aren’t perfect, but as I watched their marriage through childhood into adulthood, I witnessed two people who were committed to loving and caring for each other.  My parents always showed their affection in front of my brother and me, and even though it embarrassed us at the time, we saw two parents who still loved each other very much.  They made decisions together, and even though they would sometimes disagree, they would always work it through.  My dad has always been a strong supporter in my life.  I am the proudest when I know that I have made him proud.  And I have never seen him happier than he has been these past five years as Ben’s Papa.  Ben’s diagnosis didn’t change him in my Dad’s eyes at all. 

Ben is blessed to have a father and two grandfathers who love him very much. He is surrounded with kind and loving men who always make time to play trains, fish, camp, take him to the park, or do whatever he would like to do.  Who can ask for more than that? 

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