Opinion: What I've learned from Dad

Aaron B. Andrews
The Detroit News

Last Thursday evening, in search of a good piece of Father’s Day commentary to run on this editorial page, my boss suggested that I write up a column about my dad. 

As a prompt, he asked me, “What’s the best thing he ever taught you about being a man?”

Let me preface what happened next with this: I have the best dad in the world. He’s the wisest, kindest, most compassionate man I know.

My parents, Adam and Missy Andrews, are to me a source of the kind of love and belonging that I believe the world needs more of.

But I spent a good half hour (at least) wracking my brain for the one lesson I’d learned from him about being a man. And though I consider myself successfully grown, try as I might, I couldn’t come up with squat.

Don’t feel bad, though: I called him over FaceTime to talk it over, and he agrees.

Together, we thought back through my growing up years, searching for one lesson — just one! — that would be hefty enough to carry a 500-word column.

And though it’s true that he taught me right from wrong; that he taught me how to embrace hard work; and that he taught me how to be gentle and take care of the women in my life; still, as far as life lessons go, we both found that there is no obvious story that stands out in bold as my old man’s best advice. 

We had a good laugh about that: What’s the best thing my dad ever taught me about being a man? Couldn’t tell you; can’t recall. 

But then I realized what else I can’t recall: A single day that my dad was angry at me. A single time where I believed something that I’d done would irreparably damage our relationship.

I believe my dad has loved me my entire life — and that’s not because I was a good kid. Heck, when I was 6 my grandma, an avid collector of antique glassware, referred to me as “the destroyer.”

When I grew up and learned to drive, I broke more expensive things, like the car. I once lost traction on an icy road in my dad’s Chevy Suburban and slid backward off a 6-foot cliff into a creek. I don’t remember what the damage was to the vehicle, but neither does he. Even at the time, it was inconsequential. The first thing out of his mouth when he got the call was, “Are you OK?”

You get the picture: I can’t think of a single time that I felt like dad didn’t like me. 

And his favor trumped more than broken glass and crashed cars: To this day, I’ve never been afraid to talk to him about anything on my mind. More often than not, if I’m struggling with something, my first impulse is to call him up and hash it out. He’s always in my corner. 

He’s not the best dad because of any one lesson he taught me. He’s the best because of where and what he’s been for me. He’s been there for me, always. And he’s been a constant source of unconditional love and belonging.

The world needs more guys like Adam Andrews. And that’s why I want to grow up to be just like him. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!


Twitter: @Aaron_B_Andrews

Aaron B. Andrews just completed a year-long editorial fellowship at The Detroit News.