What my Dad doesn’t know he taught me

“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~


  1. Your Dad was brilliant academically. I believe you were blessed with those genes. Correct? I remember him to be a kind soul and a good cousin to me. I spent a lot of my time as a child at that homestead. Those were good lessons he taught you even if he didn’t know he was teaching them. xo

    • Yes Doreen, he was very smart – I’m pretty sure he could do any kind of math in his head! I don’t know if I got that gene, although I tended to have a good memory back in the day. 🙂 I’m sure there are lots of stories you could tell about those days. 🙂

  2. Thanks for this article Tasha. I love your openness. This inspired me to write this about my dad:

    An Ode to My Father

    I miss my father still even though he passed away a long time ago. He was from the older generation where children were “meant to be seen and not heard” as he would say. He also did not allow anyone to talk about “politics, money, sex or religion” because that is what they did in the Navy. He also told me to “never rock the boat”. As a result, our house was very quiet.

    My father never backed down from a problem and when things were not working out he just used some “ingenuity” to see it through. Every job or task not matter how small had to be done properly. He was all about “whatever you do, do well” and “always do the right thing”.

    My father never said much but I knew he always approved of me and was proud of me. He told me I “could be anything I wanted to”. I just had to work hard. My father was my cheerleader and fan club all rolled together in his own quiet way. Sometimes he would remind me “you know you come from royalty, never forget that”. A puzzling statement because my father never boasted but it made me feel proud.

    I had lived a sheltered childhood and youth. I knew nothing about “politics, money, sex or religion”. It wasn’t until my 6th year of university that I knew about sexism. At the age of 26 I was shocked when I encountered it. “I can’t do what…because I am a woman! You have got to be kidding!” That was just the beginning of the huge awakening and learning curve called life, where I made all sorts of uniformed choices that wrecked havoc but taught me so much.

    My father shaped my life and inspired me to always be a good student, a lifelong learner and to never give up in the pursuit of my dreams. I have always been self-confident to the extent of naivety. As a result I feel I have accomplished things that, if I had given it more examination, I would not have attempted and would have listen to the nay-sayers that said it couldn’t be done.

    I have fought long and hard every step of the way and have won. I even learned (a bit of rebellion in me) to “always rock the boat” when it is the “right thing to do” that has carried me through every rough spot in life. I have my father to thank for making my life wonderful and rich. He gave the best gift anyone could give a child, a healthy sense of “self-worth” and an over the top “self-confidence” that is badly needed in a world that is not kind or fair, especially for women.

    • You’re welcome Gwen! Thank YOU for sharing your post! This is amazing!! 🙂

  3. Our Dad`s are certainly some of our biggest teachers in life! Amongst the many teachings I received from my Dad, a couple in particular stand out….
    My father came from a small fishing village where food & money were scarce so at a young age he learned to work hard for necessities. He had parents who were great role models who instilled in him strong work ethics. Although he left school with a grade 7 education to help his family, learning has always been important to him & I`m so proud to say that today he is currently publishing his third book! He helped me through university, expressing the importance of learning. He re assured me that no matter how long I remained in my field of study, what was most important was the growth & knowledge that I would go away with, along with the confidence that would be gained. Today, I continue to hold a strong passion for learning & sharing it with others.
    Growing up, sometimes I would get frustrated with people & couldn`t understand why they would say or do the things they did & my father would say ” You don`t know what happened in a person`s life to make them who they are, so try not to judge.” This has helped me to become a more compassionate & patient person with others. A huge THANK YOU to my dad!

    • I love this Melissa! Thank you so much for sharing!! 😀


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