“May the bird of paradise fly up your nose. May an elephant caress you with his toes. May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose. May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.” – May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose (Little Jimmy Dickens)
Father’s Day was a couple of days ago. My Dad passed away in February of 2008. When he was in the hospital, he told me one night that he was going to teach the nurse how to sing “May the Bird of Paradise Fly up Your Nose”. I thought it was the morphine talking, but it’s actually a real song.
My Dad and I didn’t have what I would say was a super close relationship, and that’s just how it was meant to be I suppose. Of course, Dad did teach me some very hands on things…like how to play crib, to fish and to work hard. Unbeknownst to him I’m sure, there are a number of life lessons I learned from my Dad as well, and I wanted to share some of them with you.
No one ever said life was going to be fair.
This is something my Dad always said. I can’t remember any specific reasons why – I just remember him saying it. And guess what? Life isn’t always fair. Or at least that’s how it seems anyway in our perception of what should be happening. But even when things don’t work out the way we want them to, they always work out exactly perfect for what we need at the time.
Don’t beat around the bush if you want to be understood.
My Dad was never one for mincing his words. You always knew where he stood when he spoke about something. I’ve been on every range of this scale I think. At times, I have kept quiet about how I felt because I didn’t want to rock the boat or upset someone. Other times, I went in the complete opposite direction – nearly forcing someone to admit I was right and getting angry with them in the process. But the times when I feel best about speaking my truth are when I am assertive rather than passive or aggressive. I simply state what I mean without an agenda, without worrying how others might react, and with loving kindness as the intention.
There’s no point in crying over spilt milk.
This is another thing my Dad always said. If you don’t know this expression, basically it means don’t worry or be too upset about things you cannot change. Of course, this doesn’t mean don’t feel your feelings, however, it’s always true: what’s done is done. It’s less about what happened and more about how you handle what happened that determines your ease in navigating life. For me, this notion fostered my ability to let go and accept change. We can spend time regretting our circumstances, or we can get working on creating what we want instead.
People can love you very much even if they don’t love you the way you think they should.
When I was younger, I felt like my Dad didn’t ‘show up’ enough in my life. I also felt like he never told me often enough that he was proud of me or that I did a good job. I used to believe that I somehow didn’t measure up and was therefore not good enough. I know now that my Dad was doing his best. There are always going to be things we wish our parents (or others) would or wouldn’t do. Remember to keep your heart open, allow others to love you their way, and give love in return. Always assume you are loved and lovable – because you are.
“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” ~George Herbert~