42 of 100 Dads – Teach Them Everything

Written in loving memory of Aaron’s Mom, Gloria Mae Rogers (May 23, 1945 – February 21, 2020).

Published in loving memory of Aaron Todd, Jolene Lori and their beautiful, much loved little girl Emily Mae, all tragically lost April 19th, 2020.

Teach Them Everything!

Aaron was the adored and only son to a special mentor and beloved friend of mine, Gloria Mae. He was the apple of her eye. Gloria would have been completely elated about us working together in this way. I hope there’s a heaven.

In her memory, Aaron agreed to share a piece of his life as both a son and as a Dad. He’s equally proud of each role and was honoured to contribute all he’s learned in growing with his own family.

Dad to one teenage daughter, Aaron’s parenting focused largely on independence and respect. He was committed to ensuring his ‘little girl’ would not need to rely on anyone for anything. He wanted her to know she could handle whatever came her way.

Aaron said he was dedicated to raising a strong woman both physically and mentally. He exclaimed, “She’s ready!”

Having been largely influenced by his Stepdad, Angus, Aaron learned the meaning of the word “Father.” He said, “Angus was the best man I ever met, the best man in the world.”

He told a moving story of his release from jail stating, “When I got ‘out,’ Angus put a wrench in my hand. That changed everything. Together we worked on a Mustang. He gave me what I needed; he rearranged my world. Angus was the Father I always wanted. He taught me what a man should be. He taught me to cut the grass and fix the mower. He later put me in a small engine repair course. He was the biggest influence in my life.”

I too have enjoyed the influence of both Aaron’s Mom and his Stepdad, Angus. They were beautiful people who lived in meaningful ways.

Angus was a sweet, loving and gentle man. Aaron’s Mom was a giving and compassionate women. She provided me with a love and understanding strong enough to be the foundation by which I began rebuilding my own life.

It is an honour to carry their names in this book and to share Aaron’s parenting wisdom.

  1. Teach independence. Make sure your children value their worth and know they can handle anything.
  2. Teach them how to live off the land. Emily can build a cabin or a composting toilet. She can chop wood and run a chainsaw. She appreciates the land and can survive in the wilderness.
  3. Make sure they value themselves. I respect my daughter and treat her Mother the way a man should treat a woman, the way I want my daughter to be treated. I put Jolene on a pedestal, and I want the same for my ‘little girl.’ I want to her know she should always be respected and hope she will never accept anything less than the utmost respect from anyone.
  4. Expose them to music. Coming from the East Coast, I introduced Emily to fiddle music. She loved it and wanted to play. She learned very quickly and found she had a unique talent. She could play anything she touched. In no time she learned both harmonica and clarinet and even developed an ability to read music.
  5. Show and talk about affection. Start and end each day with “I love you.” I remember I always wanted to hear that from my Dad, but he never said it. I wanted to make sure my daughter heard it from me every day. I always hug her.
  6. Be truthful. I never lied to my daughter, even if she didn’t like the truth or when the truth was hard. When her fish died, I had to tell her. I think we have to teach about life and death.
  7. Don’t take life seriously. Have fun. We do a lot of fun things together. I love when we go off-roading together.
  8. Teach them what you know. She loves learning about the trades and customizing things. We’ve been working on a ’77 Pinto since she was three. She loved using a wrench as a toddler. She still loves learning about carpentry and welding. I love teaching her and enjoying how great she is.
  9. Deal with your child differently at every stage. They are always learning, changing and growing. Your approach should also be learning and changing and growing. Sometimes they need to learn things from their Dad and sometimes they need to learn things from their Mom.
  10. I try to be the Dad I always wanted to have. Angus came into my life as a teenager. He taught me how to be a Dad. I try to be like him.

Aaron’s closing note, “I try to be the Dad I always wanted to have,” really hit me in the heart. That was exactly my approach.

Both Aaron and I came from difficult backgrounds. We knew what we didn’t want in a parent and worked to be all the things we’d hoped for.

In some ways Aaron’s Mom, Gloria, gave to me a bit of what Angus gave to him. We both have much gratitude resting permanently in our hearts. The love of this couple reached our spirits and we’ve carried pieces of them and their teachings into our next generation. 

Aaron and I decided to do things differently. We’ve taken the positive lessons and the positive people out of experiences and with that we parented, in all the ways we knew how. 

Aaron realized love, hugs and time together were things that made a great Dad. He worked to ensure those things were present every day. He taught Emily all he knew and gave her access to what she was interested in, whether it was dirt bikes or instruments; together they found a way.

The dream he held for Emily was that she would never forget she could handle anything. Aaron hoped she would find a fun and fulfilling career and achieve a work-life balance.

He wanted her to be independent and move out, but to also never leave.

As his baby was to graduate months after our talk, the paradox of preparing for an empty nest while hating the silence of the empty nest, was starting to hit Aaron. I know that conundrum, it’s weird.

I’m sure Emily was, as Aaron says, “Ready!” We spoke about the days ahead, the Pinto Project, wood chopping and the many giggles and fun times expected a long the way.

In closing we talked about heaven. He said, “Let’s think like she {his Mom} did. Let’s pretend there’s a heaven.”

Thank you my friend, we could never have known. My heart is so very heavy.

Your family, your parents, your words and your devotion to your ‘girls’ will remain in my heart forever.

Aaron’s final Facebook post, April 18th, 2020.

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Rest together in love and peace.

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Emily, Aaron and Jolene

20 thoughts on “42 of 100 Dads – Teach Them Everything

  1. So beautifully written Doreen. What an honour it must feel to have interviewed this amazing dad & son. My thoughts and prayers are with you and his family and to all those taken from us too soon 💔

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      1. You have touched my heart with this beautiful story of a man who loved and respected his daughter. Thank you

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  2. I am so sorry Doreen for your personal loss . Many Nova Scotians are taking this tragedy as if we knew every victim personally. My heartfelt condolences are extended to you and all the friends and families of all the victims. I hope and pray for strength for everyone affected , to find the ability to move forward. I am saying all this with a heavy , heavy heart , and raincloud filled eyes.

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  3. What a treasure you can hold knowing his story will live on through you. You are one in a million Dor. Love to you my friend.

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  4. Oh my broken heart… such raw wisdom from experience brought together in pure love and respect.
    Thank you Doreen; my love to you always. 💖

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  5. Thank you so very much for sharing this loving father’s thoughts and his hope fifvhus daughter. We have seen from her the beautiful video of her playing her fiddle so wonderfully…that she was a bright shiny star of a girl.And we could hear fathers encouraging words at the end .
    He was a fine father and he raised such a lovely daughter.

    Such a great loss to the world. 😥❤🌹

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