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First Lady Erica H. Shares Biggest Lessons She's Learned From Her Dad

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If you ask my dad what the first thing he taught me was, he’d respond, “How to throw a punch.”

As the first daughter of two, I had a special bond with my dad. I was his little girl, or as he would say, his “ball of fire”. One of the first things that I remember my dad teaching me was how to throw a proper punch. He instructed me to put my thumb outside of my fist so that I wouldn’t break it and showed me how to rotate my hand and my body for more power. He also taught me how to ride a bike, how to roast a marshmallow over a campfire, how to catch caterpillars and frogs in my creature catcher, how to fish, how to change a tire, and so much more. My dad has taught me many things over the years, but I’ve found that the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from him have come from watching him as a man and as a father.

My dad has taught me to not let my past dictate my future and that perseverance pays off. My dad grew up as the oldest of six brothers in a split family. Throughout his childhood he dealt with his fair share of hardships from divorced parents to financial struggles, but he chose not to let those hardships define him. He was determined to work hard and create a better future for his family. He graduated from the University of Connecticut and has been very successful with his career and even started his own private real estate company as a side-hustle. After several years of working around the clock between two full-time jobs, I am proud to share that he has been named the No. 1 realtor in Southeastern Connecticut.

My dad has taught me how to love unconditionally by being a great parent and husband. My parents met when they were in their early 20's and have been married for 33 years this year. (Fun fact: My dad was a DJ at the time and he made my mom a mix tape for her aerobics class when they first met.) Now that I’m older I applaud them for raising two very independent and high-spirited girls and surviving to tell the tale. Throughout my childhood my parents strived to provide my sister and I with a life filled with family and opportunity and I could never thank them enough. I am beyond grateful to have so many great memories from family camping trips, birthday parties, sports, and even school projects that they would help me with. I can only hope that one day I will be able to do the same for my family. 

My dad has taught me you could do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it. Growing up my dad has always been my rock. When I was a kid I used to call him MacGyver because he could fix anything from a computer to a car. Anytime there was a problem he would figure out how to solve it and wouldn’t stop until he did. Whenever my sister or I would break something we would just say, “That’s okay, Daddy will fix it,” and he always would. From rebuilding the front end of my ’96 Saab overnight after I totaled it to fixing my broken flip flops with epoxy, he did it all. Whenever I needed help he was always there.

My dad has taught me that life is precious and you truly have to live each moment as if it is your last and hug your loved ones a little tighter while you still can. When I was a senior in high school I remember coming home from dance practice and being stopped at the door by my dad asking for a hug. He looked me in the eye and told me he had suffered a stroke earlier that day. Confused and upset I tried to wrap my head around the situation. Luckily the stroke didn’t leave him with any permanent damage, but it did make me realize the mortality of my parents and that one day the day will come that he will no longer be there.

My dad has taught me that life is not just about rolling with the punches. It’s about learning how to throw one back and fighting for the life that you want. So if you ask me what is the most important lesson my dad has taught me, I’d simply respond, “How to throw a punch.”

Happy Father's Day!

HTTR Always,

1st Lady Erica H.

2nd Year Vet

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