Tales From A Daughter: What My Dad Taught Me

Post by Sharyn Holmes for the Kind Kindred series.

photo courtesy of pixabay

Don’t waste a moment, don’t leave anything unsaid. Live in the full presence of now.

It was just over 11 years ago, when I received the phone call. My mum called me at work to tell me that my Dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital. I think my own heart stopped beating in those few seconds as I heard her words. I will never forget how I broke down at work (something I never do) and the ache I felt in my body. My Dad had been a smoker from a very young age and at the age of 55, the scales of mortality tipped slightly out of his favor.

I have so much I would like to share with you and I hope you continue reading, because this isn’t about loss, sadness or even death. This post is about life and not wasting a single, precious moment. Life is important. You are important. The lives of everyone who touch our heart and soul are important. This post will be a little disjointed as I share snippets of my life and memories.

My Dad’s heart attack came some 13 months before my husband and I were to be married. I am so pleased to write that my Dad was with me on our wedding day and is still with us. I will always cherish those moments of just him and me alone together before we left the hotel to walk out to the beach where I got married. I remember helping my Dad with his shirt cuffs as it was a warm March afternoon on the Queensland coast, of walking down the footpath arm in arm with Dad, me having a little happy cry that this day had come and that he was by my side. I recall Dad telling me to throw the tissue in the bushes and me exclaiming that I couldn’t litter! My husband and I will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary on March 18th.

When I wrote the Father’s Day card to my Dad last year, I recounted a few childhood memories that I hold dear. I know they were reminders that probably surprised him as I was only about 8-9 years old when those memories took place: losing a fishing rod (and a large fish) off the wharf along the river, I can see the cork handle of the fishing rod sinking into the water, Dad and I doing some night fishing and him ending up dripping wet when he was caught unawares by a hole in the sand beneath the water and me laughing on the shore, Dad and I setting off fireworks in the park (when it was still legal in Australia) and us running for it as a firework cart wheeled towards us. These beautiful memories have come back to me as I think about what life was like when I was my daughter’s age. I am remembering so much about my childhood and I feel blessed to be able to retell these stories.

Almost 5 years ago, I moved interstate with my husband and daughter, and away from my parents. It was a difficult choice but necessary for our family and lifestyle. I don’t speak with my parents as often as I think I should, but I know and I feel that in these 5 years our relationship has strengthened. My main concern when we moved was that my daughter, who was almost 4 when we moved, would ‘forget’ my parents and the bond they shared even though she sees them as often as possible.

A couple of weeks ago would was 11 years since my Dad’s heart attack. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I felt called to tell my Dad how proud I was of him. I told him that I have learned a lot from him, even if he doesn’t realize it. I told him that I was incredibly proud of him for the choices he made following his heart attack. How he went cold turkey on smoking. I can only imagine how difficult that was after decades of having the habit. I honor him for choosing life after his heart attack and busting through his habit.

I am very similar to my Dad in that I am free spirited, sensitive and content in my own company. I also inherited his younger self’s sense of adventure – he came to Australia by himself and travelled by ship at the age of 16. Many of my overseas adventures have been solo, too. As I grow older, I see how similar we are, though we have chosen different life paths and in many ways are very different people. It’s interesting to note that my parents and I share the same Life Path Number of 7: The Searcher and Seeker of Truth.

In the past couple of weeks I have heard lots of sad stories. People recently diagnosed with an illness and a couple of people who passed on having lived with terminal illnesses for months and even years, their lives cut short far too soon.

I think about how if my Dad had not made his choice for his health and for his life, he may not be with us today. I am so thankful that he is and that he has an amazing relationship with my daughter. I can hear it in his voice how much he lights her up, and I hear from members of my overseas family how both I and my daughter light him up. It really warms my heart. The bonds that my daughter has with my parents are so strong; I really had nothing to fear when we moved interstate.

Through the lens of my life, my stories about my Dad and my heart, today I remind you to tell someone you love, admire and/or are inspired by, how much they mean to you, why and what they have taught or brought into your life. Don’t waste a second, a minute, an hour or a day. Tell them now. I choose to live a life without regret and to me, that means to say how I feel and to let my feelings be known. You really don’t know how much time you or anyone else has. Honor them and honor yourself with the words that are warm and soft in your heart.


Sharyn Holmes created Gutsy Girl to honor and unleash the Gutsy Girl in all girls and women. She is an artist, jewelry maker, storyteller, facilitating Creative Fire, Gutsy Gatherings and intimate transformative workshops. 
She lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, free spirited daughter and Harry the Italian Greyhound.

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