My mother asked me to give a toast to my father at his 80th birthday party. My wife has it on video, but I hope that never makes it to YouTube. But here is what I had to say...
I love my father. I have always respected my father. I have learned so much from my father. I have spent my life aspiring to be as awesome as my father. And here’s why…
Marriage & Fatherhood:
I firmly believe that children learn by example. You can tell a child what to do and what not to do, how to behave and how not to behave, but at the end of the day, children will most likely exhibit the behavior and the choices that their parents make.
By watching how my father loved, respected, and would do (and buy!) anything for my mother, I learned to try my best to be everything to my wife.
By watching how my father loved, disciplined, laughed at and with, and taught respect and responsibility to my sister and I, I learned how to treat my daughters as the priceless life gifts they are and how to teach them to be all they can and want to be.
Career Success & Leadership:
When I was younger, I had no desire to be a work in finance like my father, but I knew he was a hard worker, an ethical worker, and a fair manager. I met plenty of his colleagues, partners, bosses, and employees, and there was always an honest appreciation and respect for my father.
There have been many of times when I am at work and have asked myself, “How would my father handle this situation,” or, “How can I be more like my father, as successful as my father.” My father has always been an inspiration and motivation to me in my career.
When I read that book 5 or so years ago, I thought, “Has my father read this book?” Because I knew he exemplified those characteristics of leadership at work and in life.
When I was a teenager, my father always seemed confused, maybe even disappointed, that I chose to listen to hard-rock and heavy-metal music. I know he’s even more dumbfounded that I haven’t grown out of it! But he never told me what I could or couldn't listen to. He certainly put Classical and Big Band Jazz on every moment we were alone in the car together, probably hoping he could convert me. Don’t tell him, but I actually like Baroque and Jazz music, but it’s not what I blast in my car with the windows down.
Recent psychological studies at Heriot-Watt and Westminster universities discovered that heavy-metal and Classical music listeners, aside from obvious age differences, are basically identical personalities. Above all else, they are:
At ease with themselves
Gentle to others
Value alone time
Open to experiences
Have a higher drive towards uniqueness
Have a love of the grandiose
This allows both listeners to freely encounter non-traditional occurrences, such as non-mainstream or more theatrical music, with a more open mind than their peers. So Dad, you shouldn't be ashamed of my excellent taste in music.
The Not-So-Graceful Times:
Of course, there have been not-so-graceful times as well. Such as when we traveled to Hawaii and, in the course of one week’s time, my father managed to:
Trip backwards over the luggage he left in the hotel hallway
Leave his credit card at a bar
Temporarily lost is car keys
And most eventful, set off a sprinkler in his hotel room, thereby soaking all my mother’s clothing and shoes, setting off fire alarms, and leading to the evacuation the entire hotel floor
But I won’t go into the details of that adventure here. You can talk to me afterwards because it’s a great story!
Lastly, I’d like to end this toast to my father on his 80th birthday with a poem. I didn't write it, but I felt it encapsulates what my mother, sister, and I think of my father.