Happy Birthday, Dad!

To honor my father on his birthday, I’ve collected some of his best advice to share with the online world.  He’s a smart guy; take heed.

“He who hasn’t traveled has seen but one page of the book.”


Actually, I think he stole this from St. Augustine, but it’s still true and he says it on a regular basis.

A related piece of advice, “Get to the airport two hours early. Consider three hours if it’s an international flight.”


This might seem excessive, but I’ve almost never felt nervous about missing a flight and if you have loads of extra time, that’s just more time for cocktails. Plus, if there’s a problem with your flight, you’re first in line to fix things.

“A credit card is a convenience, not a way to borrow money.”


Dad is huge on personal financial responsibility, and I’ve been paranoid about paying my credit cards immediately since I was in grad school. I hear some horror stories, and I’m grateful Dad drilled this one into my brain from the beginning.

“The key to happiness is to find something you love doing and then trick someone into paying you to do it.”


Personally, I’m still working on this. But all the evidence shows he’s 100% accurate.

“When you’re anxious about doing something, just act like you know what you’re doing and no one will bother you.”


Fake it til you make it, basically.

“Have a firm handshake. No one likes shaking hands with a dead fish.”


Again, this is completely true. If someone has a weak handshake, I make snap judgements immediately about their character.

“You’re thinking about this too much. You can’t let stuff gunk you up.”


Dad didn’t have the easiest childhood, but he’s some how flourished into a successful and loving adult.  I suspect he accomplished this by always looking forward and keeping a good attitude and refusing to dwell on the unhappy parts.

“Keep the Triple A. You will never regret having Triple A, but you will definitely regret not having it.”


Thanks to my last year with my Jetta, I can attest to the truthiness of this statement.

“And be KIND to each other.”


He stole this from a priest who finished every mass by booming this expression with relish at his congregation. Dad likes to say it when people are starting to snipe at each other, but I think he generally thinks we should be all practice kindness all the time.

“Always fill the gas tank at the three quarters empty mark.”


I’ve tested this one, and I’ve learned the wisdom.  You always think you’ll find a gas station on a road trip, but then you’re sweating it when you travel a long expanse of country highway and your gas gauge is slipping closer to the bottom.

“It’s important to show up. People remember who goes to weddings and funerals. You have to make the effort to see people.”


This speaks to Dad’s value for family and friends. All vacations and holiday travel for us revolved around visiting people. You’ve got to see people or you drift. It can be a sacrifice in some ways, but it’s better for your heart in others.

And one more to round us out today…. “Big dogs make big poops.”


This is why we always had small dogs growing up. Just as loyal, but with less waste.  My current dog weighs 9 pounds, and her poops are tinier than chicken nuggets.

This certainly doesn’t contain all the wisdom of Dad, but it’s a good sampling.  Hope it’s another great year, Dad!  Let the advice continue!



Posted on January 5, 2013, in Real Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. This is beautiful, Maryann! Happy Birthday to your dad! He seems like an awesome guy and he’s lucky to have you for a daughter!!

  2. John Dabkowski

    Thanks Miker. I guess there is a fine line between being anal and being wise. Your blog brought a smile to my heart. Love you. Dad

  3. I hope to live a life as good as your Dad has; he’s a pretty awesome guy. Nicely put, and Happy Birthday, Mr. John!

  4. happy birthday John!! love the advice!

  5. And my personal favorite:

    “Do your best and leave the rest up to God.”

    Love you, dad!

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