When I was younger, my father used to take us camping every summer. I remember the camping trips were the highlight of the year, and we waited eagerly for the weekend when we would go out into the middle of nowhere for three to five days, pitch a tent, and make all sorts of weird food over the campfire. I learned a lot about cooking at a young age from my father—he could cook just about anything over an open flame, and somehow it tasted better than making it at home.
Over the years, I don’t remember spending a lot of time with him during the week. His job had him at work by the time we got home from school and us in bed by the time he got home from work. Despite that, however, the weekends were just for us. We went swimming at the creek during the summer and out in the snow to sled and build snow forts in the winter. For the most part, my brother and got up and dressed ourselves in the morning, and we knew where the cereal was in the kitchen. Every once in a while, he’d be up early enough in the morning to see us off to school, or he’d begrudgingly wake up, get dressed, and drive us if it was raining outside. My father taught us from a young age that we lived close enough to walk to school, so we didn’t need a car to get to and from—even in high school when everyone else was driving the cars their parents had bought them.
My father worked hard to provide for the family. In return, he expected us to work hard too. We earned everything that we owned unless it was a birthday or Christmas present. Chores earned us an allowance, and Layaway at Walmart was one of our favorite things, because it meant we could have video games put behind the counter just for us to make payments on with that allowance until we’d paid every penny ourselves. Dad always told us that we’d appreciate it more if we saved the money for it ourselves. He was right. That philosophy held true until my very first car. It was $800, and it was a old, beat-up Eclipse. I had that car for 10 years before it finally gave out on me for good, and it was one of the things I was most proud of at that time in my life.
To this day, my father is hard working and would give the clothes off of his back to help a complete stranger. He’s respectful and kind, but can do an emotional 180 if you get under his skin or threaten his family. I’m proud of the way I was raised, and I’m proud of my father.