Ever since I can remember, I have been following in my father’s footsteps. When I was younger, that looked like “helping” him wash cars on a Saturday or watching a NASCAR race together on a Sunday after church. After high school, I followed in his footsteps by attending Clemson University, his alma mater. And what other profession would I have decided to set as my dream career other than his: dentistry! Just to make it even more official, I now attend the Dental College of Georgia, the same school my dad graduated from 25 years ago. It’s safe to say, my dad is my role model.
I have had the privilege of living at home with my parents and my 18-year-old brother during dental school. This means that I go to school all day, come home, and my dad re-teaches me everything in his private-practice, experienced-dentist way. I am sure my mom and brother are tired of all the tooth talk. My dad is the best teacher I have ever had, inside and outside of dental school.
There are many lessons I have learned from my dad, and one of these is to believe in myself and be confident. My dad definitely does both of those, but I’ve learned he may be a little too confident sometimes. One of these moments happened on a family vacation to the Abacos. We rented a boat, and the one rule my dad was given was to stay out of the Atlantic Ocean and only travel in the Caribbean Sea.
We were going to dinner (via boat) on our first full day of vacation to a restaurant called On Da Beach. Except something didn’t feel right. The water wasn’t blue anymore and there were no other boats in sight. Next thing I know, we were approaching the shore quickly and the waves were very rough. Long story short, we (my dad) beached the boat. His reasoning for traveling in the Atlantic was that he was “braver than anyone else.” We pushed for hours to get the boat back in the water; I thought it was going to sink, and our vacation would be ruined. The good news was that my dad beached it right in front of On Da Beach! The locals there helped us recover the boat and soon became our best friends. We spent every remaining night of vacation at On Da Beach, and this whole disaster ended up being one of our most laughed about memories.
This confidence continues to carry over into other aspects of my dad’s life. He is so confident in who God made him to be and the plan God has for his life that I rarely see him stressed. He approaches everything with an “I got this” attitude, even a new task. When I come to my dad for help with something I’m learning, stressed that I haven’t mastered it, he reminds me that I’m worried about the little things when God is in control of the details. My job is to show up and confidently obey what I have been called to.
The most important lesson my dad taught me is that people matter. My dad sits down with his patients, listens, and talks with them about anything and everything, letting them know he cares about them enough to take time out of his schedule and devote it to them. He serves his church, calling first-time guests to welcome them, letting them know they matter. He loves our family so well. He cooks a big breakfast every Friday morning, spoils my mom and doesn’t complain when I use his credit card for my Amazon hauls. I will continue to try to follow in my father’s footsteps in his love for adventure, his security in his spirituality, his love for others and in the way he serves people.
Just a week after Father’s Day, I won’t be following in my father’s footsteps. We’ll be walking side by side. Down the aisle. And when we get to the end of that aisle, he will give away his little girl, who thinks he hung the moon, to be someone else’s. Reflecting on this feels bittersweet. Obviously I’m giddy about marrying my best friend and starting our lives together, but my dad was the first man I ever loved. I am so proud and comforted that I see so much of his best characteristics in my fiancé Jacob. My dad has been teaching him the same lessons he taught me since Jacob and I started dating at age 16, and I know my marriage will be better because of his influence.
~Allison Owings, Georgia ’22