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Tonight marks the eve of my father’s quadruple bypass surgery.
As I lie awake tonight failing to get any sleep in anticipation for the big day, I can’t help reflecting on some of the most profound and enduring lessons I have ever learned in my life: the lessons my father has taught me.
Some lessons he’s taught me directly, and others he never actively tried to teach me. He simply lived them. Here’s a few of the top ones that come to mind.
Family comes first
From an early age my father taught me the value of family, and how important it was to be at peace with this subject. He’s always used the analogy of having a strong foundation at home, so that you can support any storm that comes your way later on. Over the years he’s always shown unconditional love for every one in the family and I’ve lost count of the multiple times he’s stepped up to support us through anything, no matter how stressful or busy his own day was.
I feel like my dad’s written the book on integrity. I admire the way he always has stood by his word, and takes accountability for his actions, at times having admitted to his mistakes and sharing what he’s learned. Never making false promises and teaching me to always under promise and over deliver. He’s without a doubt the most reliable person I know. He’s taught me about the importance of respect and trust, and that once lost, it’s very difficult to get either one back.
Persistence and patience
My first lessons on persistence and being patient came as a child as we spent our weekends and summers away from the city, in a farm where my father would teach me how to plant all kinds of seeds and wait for them to grow. Oranges, bananas, lemons, cherries, corn, papaya, mandarins, tomatoes and lettuce were just a few of the many seeds I cared for under my dad’s supervision as a kid, and in time these lessons sank in and changed my life forever. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things “yesterday,” but the satisfaction of getting something after putting in the time is far greater and deeper than anything achieved overnight.
My dad’s work ethic is impeccable. He’s taught me the value of being punctual and working harder than anyone else. He used to tell me how important it was to do your very best every day, no matter what your job title was. Whether just starting out as an Intern, being a well seasoned employee in a large company, or filling the shoes of a CEO, he’s taught me the importance of giving the absolutely very best you can every single day. Hard work pays off.
When I was a child, my dad would come into my room and drop a book on my bed, asking me to read it. He didn’t do it often, but every time he did I would rush to start reading it, as over the years every single book he recommended proved to be a worth story with lots of profound meaning.
He’s taught me to have “conversations” with some of the greatest minds through reading their books. He’s also taught me to always ask as many questions as possible and to question everything. It’s funny to think about it now, but our immediate impulse upon first hearing the news of him needing bypass surgery, was to consume as much information on heart disease and the clinical procedure itself from all types of sources including books, medical journals, Nat-Geo magazines, documentaries, and anything we could get our hands on, as if knowing more about it could help us conquer this challenge. And here’s the thing. We have no doubts in our minds that it has helped.
On matters of the heart
My dad is a man of few words when it comes to expressing love, but that surely doesn’t lessen the amount he feels. One of the most romantic stories I have ever witnessed in my life was when my father surprised my mother a few years ago. They had decided to buy an apartment in a new complex still being built just outside of the city, and the completion date was still another year ahead. In order to save money, they bought the apartment in its most basic version, unfinished walls, unfinished floors, no furniture, not even electrical fittings, thinking they would renovate and finish it once they had moved in.
He ended getting the keys of the apartment a few months ahead of the scheduled completion time, and secretly worked on getting it finished in order to surprise mom. I remember spending many weekends as a kid helping him clean and pass tools as he worked on different areas of the apartment. For months he secretly worked on making this home a dream for my mom, installing the floor tiles they had picked together, painting every room, new bathrooms, new kitchen, installing new windows, and even getting new furniture for every room (they had talked about bringing the old furniture into the new home just to save some money).
Finally, after months of preparation, one day my dad asked my mom to go for a drive so they could check how the construction of the complex was going. My mom happily agreed still thinking that she would find buildings half finished. She couldn’t believe her eyes when they arrived at the entrance of the apartment complex. She was almost in tears when they went up the stairs and my dad casually handed her a key and asked her to open the door of her new home. Inside my mom found a finished home furnished and decorated beyond her wildest dreams, cooled bottle of champagne and everything included. A tear fest ensued.
Without a doubt, my father is one of the greatest men I know. A teacher whose lessons have shaped my life forever. And there is still so much more to learn from him. I can only wish I can one day become half the father he’s been, and pass on some of these lessons to his grandkids.
To my father and his unbreakable heart.
Update 1: Thank you so much for all your messages and wishes for my dad. It really means a lot to our family. You guys rock!
Update 2: Dad has come out of the quadruple bypass surgery looking better than ever, and even the doctor called him champ! Thanks again for all your kind wishes, our family really appreciates every message of support we have received over the past days.