25 Important Lessons My Father Has Taught Me About Living a Great Life

21 Feb

Martin and HarveyFor a long time now, my sister and I have (affectionately) given my parents a hard time because they can be kind of square. You know, like ’50s TV parents square.

But the nice thing about having Ward Cleaver for a father is that, just like on Leave It to Beaver, there’s always a lesson to be learned, whether you realize it or not. And over the years, me and the Beav — I mean, my sister — have certainly learned a lot.

Today, on the occasion of my dad’s 70th birthday, I wanted to share a few of those lessons. Most of these my sister and I cowrote and read aloud at a surprise party for him yesterday. But since we didn’t want to speak too long and bore the crowd in attendance, I kept a few extras just for this blog post.

Of course, it all starts with his most famous lesson, the one we’ve heard most often, and about which I’ve written before: Don’t go to bed angry. Here are some other things he’s taught us.

1. You have to turn off the cable box AND the TV

2. It’s always easier just to do what mom says, when she says to do it, and how she says to do it

3. If you say “thank you” at the beginning of a customer service call, you get better service

4. You can never go to Nino’s, Bonefish Grill or Village Tavern too often

5. No drive to Florida is ever complete without a stop at Dairy Queen

6. It’s impossible to brag about your children too much — and yes, it has been proven that he has the most gorgeous and smartest grandchildren ever

7. Loyalty is important — even if your favorite team is the Mets or the Jets

8. Family first

9. It’s important to always remember to bring coffee for the girls in the office

10. At any cocktail hour, always make sure you position yourself so you get the pigs in a blanket and baby lamb chops right when they come out of the kitchen

11. There is no limit to the free samples you can have at Costco and Stew Leonard’s

12. There’s no greater currency in this world than friendship

13. You should never stop anything at number 13, park the car when the odometer ends in 13 or adds up to 13, or live on the 13th floor

14. If one of your children is on vacation and inaccessible, make sure you check in with your other child twice as often

15. There will never be a TV show as funny as Everybody Loves Raymond — though Two and a Half Men comes pretty close

16. The part of Boston with all the Italian restaurants is called the North Side, not (as it’s actually known) the North End

17. Golf is more fun when mom doesn’t come with

18. The luckiest person in the family is the one who gets to take the dog for a walk late at night and early in the morning — especially if it’s raining or snowing

19. If someone cuts you off while you’re driving, may the bird of paradise poop on their head

20. The only reason to ever go to Oneonta, NY (where he went to college), is if you’re on a trip to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. And even then, it’s an unnecessary stop.

21. Baseball is the best sport. Always will be.

22. It’s possible to land your dream job, the one you were supposed to have all along, when you’re in your 50s

23. Nothing’s better than a good, corny joke. Except repeating it so many times that it’s like beating a dead horse.

24. It’s not good to drink an alcoholic drink too quickly

25. And most importantly … Not every day is going to be a good one, but if you look on the positive side, forgive easily, see the good in people, and work hard, you’ll have a great life.

All kidding aside, I feel tremendously lucky to be able to call my dad my dad. He’s one of the most supportive, humble, generous, encouraging people I know, someone with an almost unceasingly positive attitude, and someone who has instilled many of the same values in me. Even with his recent health issues, he’s remained strong and good humored, determined not to let his illness define him or get the best of him.

I’m glad I got to celebrate this milestone with him, and I look forward to celebrating many, many more in the future.

Happy birthday, Dad!

4 Responses to “25 Important Lessons My Father Has Taught Me About Living a Great Life”


  1. I’m 42, and I Have No Idea What That Really Means | Martin's Musings - June 7, 2016

    […] dates. There were good movies. There was lots of good music. We celebrated family milestones like my dad’s 70th birthday and my nephews’ 5th. I made some strong relationships even stronger (online and off). My employer […]

  2. Heroes and Villains | Martin's Musings - August 4, 2016

    […] Ice Bucket Challenge, to put things in perspective, to donate to an ALS-related charity, or to call your own dad and tell him how much you love him, look no further. Like the man itself, this film is a real […]

  3. In the End, 2021 Was Like a Bridge to Nowhere | Martin's Musings - December 31, 2021

    […] that everyone in my family was healthy this year. My dad, whose Parkinson’s Disease continues its predictable trajectory, got worse. Multiple falls led to […]

  4. This Year, I’m Thankful that I Can See the Good in Difficult Times | Martin's Musings - November 23, 2022

    […] kind of perspective is a lesson my father taught me a long time ago. His positive outlook is a trait he’s passed down to me, and I’m so […]

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