I Never Learned To Whistle, But He Taught Me Everything Else

Cowboy Mark

Can we talk about This Is Us for a second? I know it’s completely cheeseball, but you guys, I swear they have tapped into my life. Sure, it’s the same way psychics know your details (i.e. they are the same details as everyone else in your demographic), but this show just gets me.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to hint at things that have happened in recent episodes below. If you aren’t caught up, please proceed with caution.

The number one way I relate to this story is Jack Pearson. This character is based on my dad all the way down to the mustache that only he could pull off. My dad was superhuman. He had a job that he disliked, but it paid the bills. He never complained, instead whistled when he walked in the door every. single. night. He had his own hobbies, but I always came first. Every person that ever met him thought he was his best friend. My mom treated him poorly, but he kept his chin up knowing she needed him to take care of her.

(Side note: Now, as a mom, I totally relate to Rebecca, too. She was my mom – doing all the grunt work of getting a family fed, educated, and to bed on time without the kudos Super Dad received, but anyway…)

So when this scene came up in a recent episode, it really got me….

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Miguel: I talked to your dad. He was my person. He was the one who could steady you when the world felt like it was spinning.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s my dad, that’s very true.
Miguel: You remind me of him, you know that? The way that you move your hands when you talk, the way that you walk across a room. Sometimes you remind me of him so much that the hair on my arms stands up. That’s why it breaks my heart that you don’t like me, Kevin. Because when I’m around you, I feel like I get a piece of my best friend back.
Kevin: Miguel, ahhh…
Miguel: You are Jack Pearson’s son. You have him inside of you. And when you’re nervous or at your most nerve-wracking moment, the curtain’s about to go up, all you have to do is remind yourself of that, and you’ll be fine.

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I’ve got at least 15 people who immediately come to mind who could give me this same speech about my dad. (Minus the part about me disliking them… My dad had good taste in friends.)

It is a great honor to be a child of a man like Mark Skarich or Jack Pearson. Besides being the mother of my two girls, it’s probably the greatest honor of my life. But with that gift comes a great responsibility.

Senior Year Dance with DadYou can’t be an average person if you are a child of a great one. You can’t be snarly or grouchy or apathetic. You HAVE to make small talk with that weird lady at the library (and you can never call her weird, even when describing the situation in your private blog… Oops.). You HAVE to wait for the old man to get to the door so you can keep it open for him. You HAVE to let the person who reaches for the last carton of buttermilk at the grocery store take it. (True story – I didn’t do this about six weeks ago. I’ve been sick ever since the following day. I got it, Dad. I’ll give it up next time.)

You HAVE to walk up and introduce yourself to the cute guy. You HAVE to start your own business if that’s what your heart desires. You HAVE to do the blender dance where you jump around and wave your arms with your daughters even if you are at a party surrounded by all your grown-up friends. (Did that last night…) You HAVE to give out warm hugs and firm handshakes and you HAVE to laugh out loud.

As a child, you learn big lessons from a superhero parent as you watch them navigate the world first-hand. You listen to their pontifications as they teach you to be your own philosopher. You learn what it’s like to be kind, to be daring, to look like a fool in the name of putting a smile on your own child’s face. You realize that somewhere deep inside you is the courage to do anything because your dad believed you could do it.

What a gift. But in true only child fashion… what a lot of work. Which makes me wonder how dad felt. Did he ever give himself a break? It was only in our last few years together, when I was truly an adult, that I ever saw him really disgruntled. I had some guesses, but it was after his death that I learned he had the weight of the world on his shoulders and yet, he always whistled.

No really, he ALWAYS whistled. How did he do that?

My dad always finished our calls by saying “make me proud”. I’ll never quit trying to do just that, but now you know why I cancel a lot of plans. A girl’s gotta take the cape off every now and then.

So, anyway, I don’t really know what my thesis is here. Except that I love this show and it gives me reason to remember dad in all his dad-al prime. Damn, he was an amazing human.