Lessons From My Father: Thanks Dad


I loved hearing about and from our Mothers during May so I wanted to give a shout out to Dads too during their month. So much of what my dad taught me, is reflected in the kind of mother I am. So here’s to dads, in-laws, grandpas, father figures and the many lessons they have taught us.

Lesson 1: Be joyful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad in a bad mood. He has faced some challenges to be sure, but like his mom (the grandma I am named after), he always chooses to see God’s hand in these challenges, and maintains that tough times will pass and rainbows will come out after the storm. As he faces more and more health situations in his 80s, this attitude is even more evident. He loves life, and his family and shows gratitude every day. I love seeing him smile every day.  

Lesson 2: Don’t worry. My mom and I are self-proclaimed worriers, thinking of every possible scenario that might bring harm to our families. My dad reminds us that worrying doesn’t fix anything, and only takes away from the joy. We know he is right, and I admire his ability to focus only on the positive, and not let worry steal his joy. I try to remember that.

Lesson 3: Live ethically, even when no one is watching. My dad doesn’t bend the rules, even quietly. When faced with even the smallest ethical dilemmas (ordering off the kids’ menu at 14, when the cutoff is 13?) I often find myself thinking about what my dad would do and make the situation right.

Lesson 4: Follow your passion. There is no doubt what my dad loves – when he listens to music, his whole body moves. I love watching him play the drums, still at 84, as he gets really into the music and you can tell. Seeing him play the timpani on Easter gives me goosebumps. When he was younger, his dad didn’t necessarily want him playing drums in a jazz band, but that was his dream, and he still plays today.  I know from him that life is more fun if you live your passion.

Lesson 5: Enjoy the outdoors. My dad has always loved plants. He is a retired biology professor who specialized in botany. My parents have always gardened – their yard is full of gorgeous flowers, and a prolific vegetable garden. Whenever I call, it seems they have been out working in the yard, and they see this as a joyous task. Whether it’s in the backyard, a walk around the block, or one of the many family trips we have taken, we love spending time outdoors together, enjoying nature. I always think of my dad when we are spending time outside with our kids. When he’s on a nature hike, he smiles the whole time, telling us all about the skunk cabbage and the Latin names for plants. 

Lesson 6: Be generous. My dad is generous with his time, with his love, and with his resources. My parents have shown me that it’s important to support your church, to serve on community boards, to feed friends and neighbors, and they are generous with us all the time. I know they have worked hard, and saved up for what they have, and they are busy involved people so time is at a premium. I admire that they share their resources with such open hearts, and find so many ways to make a difference in their community.

Lesson 7: Value Education. My dad spent his career as Dr. Zimmerman teaching college biology. My brother and I never questioned if we would go to college – it was just assumed that was the next step on our educational journey. I loved growing up in a college community, having students over for cookouts, tagging along on field trips, playing on campus. It is not surprising that I ended up spending my career on a college campus as well, committed to helping students on their path to higher education.

My dad always lets me know he’s proud of us – at my high school graduation

Lesson 8: Tell others how you feel. My dad always tells us and our kids how proud he is, how much he enjoys spending time with us, and how grateful he is for our family and the love we share. We didn’t always grow up saying “I love you” in our family, but there is no doubt in my mind about how much we are loved. My dad shares his gratitude during almost every conversation we have – in person and on the phone. Does it get old? Never. It has given me the example I need to share my gratitude, love and pride with my own kids on a daily basis.

Many dads have a special ability to love us, support us and have fun with us. I love these practical lessons that this author shares from her dad. What lessons has your father, father figure or partner shared with you over the years?  Let’s show these dads some love on Fathers Day (thanks for these gift ideas Meghan)!  

Spending time in nature with my dad is the best



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Augustana College brought Rachel to the Quad Cities as a student, and she has stayed here ever since making Rock Island her home. Rachel works full-time as the Associate Director of Admissions at Augustana, and is raising three kids, Grace (17), Luke (15) and Claire (10). Her husband Bill teaches art at Rock Island High School and is a freelance artist doing murals, caricatures and architectural renderings. Rachel enjoys being involved with her kids' sports activities, and also is an advocate for JDRF (the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) in support of her daughter with Type 1 Diabetes. She also loves to plan awesome vacations and adventures with her family, and leaves the beach most of all.


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