Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We’re a talkative bunch, the Smith clan. My dad has said a lot of stuff over the years. And Maya’s right, I forget a lot of it (only some of it selectively). He’s done a lot of cool shit in his 52 years, too. He was the number one sales representative at Stryker for, like, twenty years. He wrote a book. He coached me in basketball for seven years, which I can only assume was the highlight of the bunch. But, score one for Maya again, I can’t remember most of what he’s done. Honestly, my mom and I don’t even know what his job is. Seriously, he’s our Chandler Bing. “What does your dad do?” “Well, he works for Stryker. He used to be in sales. Now he does some…stuff…with…people?”
People will forget what you said. They’ll forget what you did. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
I’m sure I’ll forget most of what he’s said and at least 90% of what he’s done. But I’ll never forget how he made me feel.
He made me feel strong. He made me feel smart. He made me feel beautiful. And he made me feel loved.
And he made me feel okay.
When I was 17, I got into an accident. I rear-ended someone at around 55mph, totaled my beloved Chrysler Pacifica, Chester, and somehow avoided a ticket because it was the dead of winter and, you know, ice and stuff. Anyway, I was about 30 miles from my house, so it took my dad about an hour to get to the scene. He slept in the guest bedroom that night so I could sleep with my mom in their bed. He asked me to skip school the next day and go to work with him. Because he had to know I was okay. He had to know I was okay.
When I was 19, I got sick. Physically. Mentally. I was nearing the end of my first semester sophomore year. I stopped wanting to go to class. I stopped wanting to get out of bed. I stopped wanting to breathe. South Bend is a two-hour drive from my house. He cut that in half. He asked me to skip the next semester. To stay home, to get better. Because he had to know I was okay. He had to know I was okay.
When I was 22, I moved to Chicago. Three months in and I was working a job that I hated; living a life that I hated. Six hours and a U-Haul later, I was back home. He asked me to find what I wanted to do. Be exactly who I wanted to be. Pursue whatever the hell I wanted. Because he had to know I was okay. He had to know I was okay.
To all the dads out there, I hope you had a bangin’ Father’s Day, I really do. But I’m reserving today for my dad. Because he deserves one all his own.
So, to my dad, the man who can’t go a minute without making sure I’m okay: I am. I’m more than okay. And I have you to thank.