Here is the speech. I have called it
LESSONS FROM DAD
"As a parent, I watch Jessica and Nathan and I realise how much of me and my husband are in them. The way they smile, the things they say… their attitude to life. And I have so much more respect for my parents. My mom who was always there for me, my dad who worked hard, my parents who did everything they could to make sure I could achieve my dreams.
So much of who I am comes from my Dad. This year is 10 years since he passed away and I still carry the lessons he taught me with me every day. We didn’t get on very well, we argued and had many disagreements, especially when I hit my teens. My mom always had a theory that it was because we were too alike. And I’m sure many of your parents are nodding their heads because they can identify with that statement.
What I want to share with you tonight is a few things I have learnt from my father… and a few lessons of my own learnt along the way.
My Dad was always working in the garage… whether it was building things out of wood or fixing things that broke. We actually used to call him Mr Fixit. I actually spent more time out there with him, than I did in the kitchen with my mom. And a few things I learnt out there, spending time with him were:
1. Always do whatever you start PROPERLY.
If it’s a job worth doing, do it right the first time, because then you won’t have to do it again. Whatever my Dad did, he did well. There was no ‘rush job’. If something turned out wrong, he started it again. If a toy he made didn’t work, he worked at it until it did. I actually remember one time he was fixing a radio, and though he had no electrical training, he took each wire and touched it to each point until something worked and then he moved on to the next one. We still have that radio today. In your work and in your life, always start something you are going to finish in the way you want to finish it. What I mean is, don’t leave things to the last minute and then rush through them just to get them done. Spend time. Your work reflects on YOU and on your family. And the picture you want to paint of yourself shouldn’t be one of not caring what you hand in. Assignments aren’t given to torture you, I promise. Do whatever your teachers or parents ask you and give of yourself into every one. You will reap the benefits in the future.
2. Give your BEST.
Many of you know my class motto: Good Better Best, Never let it rest, till your good is better and your better is best. Well, that was my dad’s motto. He taught it to me, and I teach it to my classes, because I believe in it. Why would anyone want to go to a doctor who just gives enough? Who would want to eat a meal that was OK. Would you want to wear clothes that were thrown together because the designer or the seamstress just wanted to get it done? Wouldn’t you want the people around you to give their best? Well then YOU have to. In everything you do. Even if your classmates or friends don’t. No teacher will moan at you if you give your best. They moan because they KNOW you can do better! They see the potential in you and are sad to see it going to waste when you don’t take care in your work or assignments. Coasting through is not acceptable. Give all you can in all you do and you can DO anything, and BE anything you set your mind to.
3. Be yourself, no matter what people think.
My Dad never apologised for who or what he was. He was a factory manager at Jack and Jill shoes for most of his life. And he was proud. Proud of what he was doing for his family. Proud of the difference he was making in his area of influence. He didn’t change who he was, or what he did for anyone, not even me. And yes, there were times where he embarrassed me with his opinions or his expectations or things he said… but he was who he was.
Me? I am a bit of a nerd. I like to craft and scrapbook. I like to watch series like Castle and The Mentalist. I get the jokes on Big Bang Theory. I read. I play board games. I’m not fond of going out and partying, I’d rather be at home, surfing the net for new ideas for my classroom. And it’s taken me this long in my life to realise that being a nerd is OK!
So let me help you out now, before you’re my age and only realising this: If you are someone who prefers reading to going out? You are YOU! If you are someone who would rather play games than have a party? You are YOU. If you are a person who has no interest in fashion or music, but would sit for hours and draw. Be YOU. Friends are fleeting, they will pass in and out of your life, but you are yours forever. Be proud of who you are and what you do. Love what you do, love who you are and people who matter? They will love YOU.
4. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
This lesson was a hard one for me to learn. My dad used to embarrass me so much when he would argue with shopkeepers about the quality they gave him. He was a bit of a perfectionist (and I guess I get that from him too) and because he worked with shoes would carefully inspect every single shoe he was thinking of buying for flaws. In fact the shoes I’m wearing at the moment would not have passed his test, because the soles are just glued on. I remember once we went to eat out and he ordered fish. He sent it back 3 times because it wasn’t prepared correctly. He would ask for discounts. At retailers! “If I pay cash will you give me a discount? If I use my credit card you’ll have to pay the fee” That’s where I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.
But you know what? He was right. Why should you settle for less than you deserve? You are no less than those around you. You have equal rights to be treated well. And if someone doesn’t treat you the way you deserve, then maybe they aren’t someone you need to be around?
A famous quote doing the rounds on the internet says: Why make someone a priority in your life when you are only an option in theirs?And it is SO true!
Keep people around you who make you feel worth it. Who make you feel like you can take on the world. And if there are people (or friends) who break you down and treat you badly? Cut them loose. Life is too short to settle for anything less than what is good for you.
5. Life is short.
This was the final lesson my dad taught me. He was taken away far too soon. There were still lessons for him to teach me. There were still stories for him to tell me and Jessica and Nathan, and still questions I had that needed answers. But it’s too late now. I can’t go back and change the past, but I can tell you something that is truth:
Appreciate your parents while you have them.
Appreciate your grandparents while they are here.
Sit at their feet, LISTEN to them, record them, ask them questions about what they have been through and learnt. I know that at this stage you see your life stretching ahead of you and you think ‘there’s LOADS of time’. But before you know it, you will be old like me (hehe) and will be looking back and thinking “I wish I had listened to dad more” or “I wish I had spent more time with Ouma”.
Even when you feel like they don’t know what you are going through (and they DO) or when they are making you do things you don’t want to do, or saying no when you really want them to say yes. RESPECT them. Like I said before, friends come and go. Your family will be the support, the wealth of knowledge and the foundation for you to build your dreams on. Build on what they have taught you. Like I am trying to.
There may be a few things within yourself that you aren’t aware of yet, or aren’t sure how to use. Give it time, and you’ll realise that you are equipped to be the best YOU, you can be.