My father, Jack Sarver, lived a short life – only 58 years. As I am about to reach that same age, I realize how truly young he was when his life was cut short by heart disease. Father’s Day is approaching, and I’m reminded how his precious, loving words of wisdom have guided me and kept me on my path.
There is nothing quite like a father-daughter relationship. My father worked long hours, but he always came home for dinner at night, even if he had to go back to work after we ate. His smile was heartwarming and joyful. I still see it in my mind and feel the happiness it continues to bring me.
Dad taught me many things, but the one that resonates most loudly is to always trust myself. I remember being a sophomore in high school, and coming home devastated one day after a meeting with my counselor. Apparently, I had not tested high on a national math exam, which led my counselor to feel as though it was her duty to recommend that I not apply to college. I studied hard and got good grades, but my math retention was pretty nonexistent (wish I could say the same about my water retention these days). Devastated, embarrassed, and fighting back tears of disappointment; I proceeded to share this news at our family dinner table. My father was direct and to the point, “Do you want to go to college?” he asked. I replied, “Yes.” He looked at me with pride and said, “Then you will go to college.”
Back in the day, parents didn’t start planning & researching their child’s college years while they were in diapers; no one I knew hired college consultants and tutors to prepare their kids for the national exams – frankly, my parents were not at all involved in my college selection process. Mine was quite simple: I was in Mazatlan, Mexico on vacation during spring break (that was THE vacation hotspot when I was growing up in Arizona). I thought the guys I met who attended the University of Colorado (in Boulder, Colorado) were the cutest. Take a wild guess what school I applied to?
What was I thinking??????????? I hated cold weather, didn’t like to ski, I was very square (the farthest thing from the hippie culture as you could get), and I was not the sorority type either! After one month at UC Boulder, I found myself counting the days until Christmas vacation. I was lost and unhappy there.
After returning back to school from a month long vacation, I was unhappy and back in my dorm room when the phone rang. It was my Dad checking to see that I arrived safely. He saw right through my desire to sound “fine,” and asked me why I was so sad. Finally, I told him I really didn’t fit in at Boulder and that I was very unhappy. He simply asked, “So why are you still there?” I explained that I was worried about what people might say if I transferred schools after only one semester. He told me that if I make decisions based upon what others think, I will always be unhappy, and all that matters is what I think of myself. His final words that day were, “Your life; your choice.“ That was all I needed to hear. I was on the next plane back to Tucson and enrolled in the University of Arizona, where I earned my degree four years later. (I thought about sending a copy of my diploma to my high school counselor.)
In my 40’s, when perimenopause and menopause sideswiped me and my quality of life was diminished, those words of wisdom from my father fueled me to trust myself and how I felt. I could hear him saying to me, “You are the one living your life. Your life; your choice.” That pushed me to not give up until I found hormone happiness! My father’s wisdom ignited me to listen to my passion and desire to break the taboo surrounding perimenopause and menopause, to speak out and encourage the sisterhood to also trust how they feel and get the help they deserve.
Dad, thank you for teaching me to believe in myself, to appreciate this precious life, and to follow my dreams.
It’s been 35 years since you passed away, and I miss you every day, but your love has never left me, and your words of wisdom will be forever embedded in my heart.
Happy Father’s Day!