The Dude

by Anna Ervin

With the 9-year anniversary of my dad’s passing behind me, I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. I often think about the legacy that he left behind for me, and I wonder if he’d be proud of the life I’ve created for myself.

Anna and her Father

My dad was a self-taught auto mechanic for over 25 years. He could completely overhaul a vehicle’s transmission and send the driver back on the road in a matter of days, often to never see them back in his shop. He had customers drive from all corners of the state for his service, but he hated his career. I can still picture him placing his hand on the doorknob that led from my mother’s office into his shop and saying, “when I die, if the door to heaven looks like this, I’m going to hell.”

The career he had built with so much pride, although successful, would continue to eat away at his spirit up until the weeks before he passed.

It wasn’t all bad though. Over time he found ways to chase his dreams outside of work. He loved art, music, traveling, and of course, cannabis. I remember walking into my living room on a handful of occasions to see him leaning over a guitar, or a pen and paper, writing a song amidst the faint smell of something I was too young to identify.

I sometimes think that he made a point to pursue these passions late in his life to set an example for me. Like he wanted me to see the value in making time for the things that I loved, so I didn’t fall into the same 9-5 trap that he did.

Whether this was his intention or not, it’s still the most valuable lesson I think I could have learned from him in our short time together. I’ve always had a hard time settling for jobs or career paths that didn’t make me feel challenged, or fulfilled. Throughout my life I’ve often found myself throwing in the towel, saying “this isn’t the right job for me, I know there’s something better out there.”

This mindset led me to explore some pretty cool, creative fields of work over the last several years. But it wasn’t until recently that I found the job that allows me to explore the things that I love through my work. The job that made all the other seemingly pointless jobs I had worked previously finally make sense.

Although I had grown up watching my father dread his weekdays, I never saw him falter when it came to his work ethic. He took a lot of pride in everything that he did, and rarely backed down from a challenge. I’ve given every job I’ve had my all, and I’ve learned a few things along the way – things that have allowed me to adopt a more positive perspective on my previous employment, one that fills my heart with gratitude.

Some of the organizational skills I acquired working in my first office setting are the same methods I use to keep myself on track today, both in my career and my personal life; the creative (and sometimes eccentric) marketing skills I learned while working at a trendy doughnut shop equipped me for the colorful and expansive world of publishing and content creation; and finally, the ability to adapt to just about any kind of work environment has prepared me for the ever-evolving roles that my current position demands.

So, I’m thankful to my dad for instilling confidence in me to keep chasing my dreams, and avoid settling for less than anything that makes me feel happy and passionate. I’m thankful that he taught me the value in hard work and believing in myself.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the best way to ensure that my dad would be proud of me is to continue to be exactly the person that I am – the daughter he raised to be inspired, courageous, and resilient.