Some fatherly advice

I remember as a little child thinking that my parents knew everything. Every question that I had they had an answer for it, even if that answer was “because I told you so.” Again, I remember as a teen-ager thinking that my parents had absolutely no clue as to what it meant to be human. I remember thinking that their advice was outdated and they were far away from their high school days. Now as an adult, I look back at so many points in my life and think, “I wish I had believed my parents when they said (insert advice here).” 

I mentioned in last month’s article that I was going down to Mississippi to bring my dad’s remains there since that is where he wished to retire. It was an incredible trip. My two best friends and I drove 22 hours straight to Mississippi because I wanted to give my dad one last gift. By the time we reached Virginia I was fully aware that yet again, this was my dad’s advice to me, one last piece of wisdom he could impart upon me.

As I wandered around the campus of the University of Mississippi and thought, “Gosh, my dad was right, I should have applied here” or sat on the bank of the Mississippi River and watched the sunset thinking, “My dad was so right about how beautiful it is down here,” I realized my dad was full of so much good advice. It’s too late for me to tell him that the advice he gave me as a child has become the words I cling to as an adult. I figure the best way to thank him for all of his little sayings were to pass them on to others. So let me share some fatherly advice from my dad.

First, live one day at a time. This was one of my dad’s one-liners that I probably heard the most. Whenever I would get upset about something that happened at school, or when I was stressed out about some event that was coming up, he would remind me that there is nothing I could do to change the past and that I can’t dwell on what might happen. We need to live life to its fullest by being present in every moment. When we obsess about the past or get lost in the future we miss the very thing that we do have control over — right now. We need to live each day for just what it is: a day.

The second phrase that my dad used to annoy me with was insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. This one was probably the most frustrating to hear. For me this was usually when I was upset about something that one of my “friends” said or did. Then I would get the “Amanda, why do you keep putting yourself in these situations? They are not going to change. Do you know what the definition of insanity is?” Yes, Yes. I know what insanity is, but what am I supposed to do? Change friends? Let it go? Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of doing things the same way, or stay with the same people even if they bring us down and we have to begin to realize just how crazy that is. As scary as change can be, sometimes that is exactly what we need to do.

The third piece of advice that my dad shared was KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Especially as a girl, I think I over-think things too much. What did they mean when they said that? What was that look about? What did the teacher mean when they said this? I also think we put too much pressure or stress on things that really aren’t that important. We need to uncomplicate our world as much as possible. The busyness of life, the craziness of social media, and the pressure of culture confuse us enough. When we can find a way to add less to all of that, we need to take advantage of it. 

Lastly, my dad always told me not to sweat the small stuff and everything was small stuff. As much as I would fight him on the fact that what I was dealing with was not small stuff, I eventually began to see how right he was. We need to let things go. There are so many things in this world that are beyond our control and once we start to realize that, we can start to relax a little bit. We cannot and should not control everything. We need to place them in God’s hands and let Him do His job. Ours is to love Him the best we can. He will handle the rest.

My dad was not a religious man but he did have a favorite prayer that he would pray often and that he shared with my brother and me so often that we, too, find ourselves praying it often. The Serenity Prayer was a staple in my house and I think it really sums up all the advice he gave me. I know we do not always want to listen to our parents but I guarantee two things will happen in life. The first is that a day will come when you realize your parents were right and second is that someday you will hear yourself say the exact same thing you used to roll your eyes at.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.org.

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts