5 things I learnt from my dad


Work in the garden, work on your bike/car/house. Work with your hands. Paint. Write. Draw. Wash the dog. Wash your car. Do sport. Build things. Sweat. Don’t be too lazy to get your hands dirty, or too comfortable to stop using your head. They are equally important and if the one fails, you will hopefully still have the other.


What you have right now, is enough. My dad built and made many things – a camp shower from a broken hosepipe and a few other random bits, impressive party decorations from sheets of shade netting and plastic, paintings, and drawings on matchboxes… but most impressively: a career from nothing. He had to leave school at an early age due to circumstances, but he used what he had and made it into something. He had to get up at the crack of sparrows to walk to a bakery to help bake and pack bread and then to the back office where he picked up on bookkeeping skills …. A full day of making ends meet until he made things happen. He worked hard and managed to move on, move up, settle in a steady job, complete his matriculation certification and later a degree in finance by studying part-time. He even found time to take art lessons and enjoyed photography.


As newlyweds, my mom and dad started marking all their travels on a printed road map and tried to never take the same route twice. They marked every road they traveled on and so, by going to the same place, they never went to the same place. The trips were mostly modest, but they were always new in some way. You do not have to go on expensive overseas travels or exotic locations to travel or to see new things. It is an attitude, a way to look at the world, a willingness to go where you haven’t been before – even if the destination is the same.


I have no guarantee that my dad really enjoyed what he did, I only have proof in what I saw. To my knowledge he never complained and never moaned about going to work, working late or working hard. He just did it and he was pretty good at it. He either liked it, and was therefor good at it, or good at it, and therefore he liked it. I am sure the one fed the other. Point is: people can see if you like what you keep yourself busy with… But it is actually not about them, it is about you. Like what you are doing. And if you are lucky enough – love it. Life is short.


A bit tongue in cheek – he made a poster for my older sisters, to try and get them to plan better for school, get homework done on time and study better for exams. He WROTE OUT: PLAN AHEAD, but there was not enough space for the last few letters “AHEAD” and he had to squeeze them in. On purpose, or by chance, it stuck in my head.  His poster is engraved in my mind. I just love it.

Not to say I follow this lesson with my whole heart or all the time, but let it be said: there are better results waiting for those that plan and go for it. Set your goals and work for it.

Obviously, I learned much more from him than these 5 things, but this will do for today.



This was originally a Facebook post on to my dad on a day. Instead of simply saying: “5 years since you left” and nothing more, I want to pay tribute in a way that is positive and uplifting. Maybe it can mean something to someone today : )

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