He taught me the value of an education. I was the first Rowland boy to graduate from college. I am the only teacher in my family, as far as I can tell, and I entered that vocation at a time when winning the bread on a teacher’s salary was next to impossible. I think he is proud that I found my way differently from anyone else in the family.
He also taught me perseverance. I can never remember a day when I didn’t believe I could do anything. I think part of that is just my personality, but some of it also comes from watching his example.
When my own sons got married, he taught me never to give them money to pay their bills. That sort of went along with the “find your own way” theme. He did, however, teach me to help them financially every time I got the chance.
He taught me to be the voice of reason. I mentioned before that my mother could be a little domineering, and her son was committed to the aforementioned hard-headedness I alluded to earlier, suffice it to say my dad played referee much more than he deserved.
When my mother got sick, he taught me the meaning of unconditional love. He was by her side every minute of every day — and most days were not pretty. Perhaps the most important thing he taught me was to teach my sons to love the mother of their children. The world would be a better place if more men understood that.
I don’t get to talk to my own sons as much as I’d like. One is in Florida chasing his dream and the other is in Virginia serving his country. When we do talk every conversation ends with, “I love you, Dad.”
I don’t remember a time when my dad said, “I love you.” But the one thing he taught me, above all else, is that he does. Perhaps the most powerful love of all is the kind that never has to be spoken.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thanks for everything you taught me.