During this time of year, we remember our fathers and celebrate their influence. I could write volumes about the great qualities in my dad, his character and merits. But I wondered if I was to highlight, say, just three terms about my dad, what they would be.

Father and son walking to General ConferenceSEO is the latest buzzword in the Internet craze, and it influences so much of what we see and do. Yet 30 years ago, the term didn’t even exist. At that time, Search Engine Optimization sounded like a tune-up prior to a massive hunt with 4×4 trucks. If you don’t know what that acronym means, it’s no reason to feel badly. But with the sheer volume of data on the Internet today, search terms help eliminate the fluff and allow users to target what they are really looking for and locate the best options.

My dad has dozens of qualities I admire in him, and narrowing them down to target just three is not an easy task, but here is my list of keywords and why:

SMILE – Dad was always happy, friendly, and available, even during difficult times. My friends and other acquaintances would ask me “Does your father always smile?” To which I would respond “Yeah, pretty much always.” I guess that I just became used to it, so I asked him once how he was always able to smile. He said “I just think of all my blessings, and I can’t help but smile in appreciation.”

FRIENDLY – We all felt we were my dad’s favorite son, daughter, or grandchild. He had the ability to make each of us feel as though we were his favorite, because we are. He made sure each one of us understood we were dearly loved, and we knew it. He wanted what was best for all of us.

WISE – One of my dad’s greatest qualities was his uncanny ability to listen. He was wise, astute, and articulate, so I often sought his assistance because I knew he would hear me out. Sometimes I just needed to pour out my troubles or reveal my frustrations or perhaps share a moment of pride or satisfaction. He would pay attention to my concerns and rejoice or sorrow with me as the case required without judging me, and I could share the tender feelings of my heart freely. Perhaps the ability to listen is not found among the lists of greatest attributes esteemed and admired in others, but for me, it was significant.

I have told the story many times when my dad and I would share a few moments together driving in the truck along the river road on our way to town or pruning the trees up in the orchard and around the farm or completing some other task together. We enjoyed many times talking and sharing thoughts with one another. I would often try to articulate the troubles I was experiencing at home or in school, and he would listen to my intent, though my words often failed me. Near the end of the journey, I would respond with something like “Dad, thank you so much for helping me work through this.” And he would smile and his eyes twinkled. I knew then that I had done all the talking–but what I needed was someone to listen–and that’s just what Dad would do.

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When my father passed away, I missed many of his qualities, but quiet, confident, sincere listening was certainly among the most treasured. It was just like Dad to always be thinking of helping others.

And for me, it was someone who would listen.

Yes, I am very fortunate indeed. I realize the privilege it has been to enjoy his example and companionship. My dad makes me want be a better father to my own son.

And that’s just what he always wanted.

Dad’s personal history

About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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