Monday, April 16, 2007

How Time Flies ...

When I first met Katie, she was a little energetic kid who used to come up and visit once a month on weekends. A couple years later, she was my step-daughter, and Dave and I moved from California to Florida so we only got to see her about twice a year, summer and during the holidays. She did a lot of growing up without us, graduating at the top of her high school class, earning a full tuition scholarship to Brigham Young University, the college of her choice, and getting married in her junior year. Next week she's going to graduate from college with plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at BYU.

As one of her final assignments, she wrote this essay about Dave to say thanks for a lot of things he never knew made a difference. I am so very proud of both of them!

This I Believe

I believe in the values that my father taught me. While I might not always live them as fully as I would like and while I mix them with my more conservative Christian beliefs, I know that what he has taught me is true.

My father is man of honor and discipline, and those twin values extend to all that he does. He was an officer in the Marine Corps until his knees gave out running triathlons. He has remained close the military ever since, obtaining a doctorate and working in cutting edge warfare simulation and training. He tells me that he is one of the leading experts in his field, and I believe him. I know that he has money, but he lives in a small house with standard amenities, in a modest neighborhood close to his office, and only purchases new cars every eight to ten years.

Ever since I was a very small child, my father expected me to live by my word. I remember once, when I was about eight or ten, I persuaded him to buy me a small cross stitch kit. Expecting me to finish what I started, he kept asking me about it until I finally finished it and presented it to him more than a year later. At times, living by my word has seemed like a burden and prevented me from telling him things, since I like to dream about different plans and scenarios. But by the time that I am sure enough about any tentative plan to present it to him, he can feel left out. Still, this sense of honor has strengthened my respect for him, and helped me to be a better person in all aspects of my life. I know that when I commit to doing a certain task, or participating in an event, I must have a very serious reason for failing to do so. And there aren’t many very serious reasons.

His discipline is evident in how he treats himself and how he manages his money. I know that his knees still hurt him, and his shoulder has been troubling him the past few years. Doctors have offered him disabled license plates, but he refuses. He knows that health benefits outweigh the pain of exercise, so he forces himself to exercise. Of course he cannot do what he did in the Marines, but he refuses to let his knees and shoulder be an excuse. From him I have always been encouraged to lead an active lifestyle and learned to not make excuses.

My father has also taught me the value of money. He knows the difference between needs and wants, and can recognize quality. He has had the same living room furniture since 1988, but it still meets his needs. Since I was young, he has expected me to appropriately budget my allowance for the things that I wanted. I remember spending weekends rolling pennies for him when I was four or five, so that we could take the pennies to be deposited in the bank. When I left for college, he informed me of the amount he would be sending me each month, and I when I wanted more, I got a part time job. Watching my friends’ and roommates’ financial interactions with their parents, I was grateful for my father. By sending me a monthly sum, I was directly in charge of where the money went. I respected the money so much more than my friends who never saw their rent or credit card bills, even the friends that were only receiving the amount that I did. When I got my first credit card, I made sure to pay off the balance every month. When I got married, my husband and I immediately set aside an emergency fund and opened an IRA, even though we are both still students.

What has my father taught me? The values he lives by: personal accountability and self discipline. There is nothing more important than these, and this is what I believe.


Maddy said...

Wow! What a good man! He taught her well.

I know you are proud of both of them!

Susan said...

Wow! I am so impressed. A great dad and a great daughter! What a duo! She sure does have a like-minded step-mom!

ShirleyPerly said...

Compared to these two, I'm the slacker in the family ;-)

Cliff said...

Wow. What a great dad (and daughter). I agree. Our parents have the biggest influence among us. They don't need to preach. They just live the values.

petra duguid said...

Hey Shirley - I've only just found your blog through Maddy and Susan but I've already spent way too long reading through your entries. This one was incredible though - really inspirational and very impressive - on the part of your stepdaughter and her father. And your workouts are incredible - you're very very impressive! Keep it up and I like your integrity.