lessons learned

My First Teacher

So I am having a tough day.


Today would have been my Dad’s 77th birthday.  He died on Mother’s Day last year after a long and courageous battle with cancer.  The last two years of his life were filled doctor’s appointments, chemo treatments, surgeries, and more hospital stays than I care to count. But through it all he was the model patient – never feeling sorry for himself, always bringing joy to doctors and nurses, and never uttering one complaint – and he was so much sicker than he ever let on.

The NC State Motto is: Esse Quam Verdi which means To Be Rather Than Seem.

Never have I seen anyone epitomize that more than my Dad.  He was just an average guy, with an ordinary job, but he never failed to make me, my sister and brother feel extraordinary.  I can’t think of a day where he didn’t say, “I love you and I am so lucky, I have three great kids.”

He taught me to wake up everyday with a joyful heart.  He taught me to be kind.  He taught me to believe in myself.  He taught me to not take life too seriously. He taught me to celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. He taught me to give 110% in everything. He taught me the meaning of sacrifice. He taught me to appreciate nature. He taught me perseverance and resilience. He taught me patience.  He taught me what unconditional love is.

I miss him so much.  Dad2

Somedays, like today, it knocks the wind out of me.

Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”  I can’t think of a better quote to sum up the life of my dad and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my sister, brother and I are all teachers – our careers honor the values our Dad taught us.

While I am grateful my Dad saw all of us graduate from high school and college, get married, have kids, build careers – I’m not going to lie – I still feel a little bit cheated – and on days like today – it kinda sucks. But I will stop feeling sorry for myself, be grateful and go forward because that is what my Dad would expect of me!


10 thoughts on “My First Teacher

  1. Chris Tuttell, your dad is so proud of you! Thank you for keeping his legacy going by teaching the rest of us how to celebrate even the little things. You inspire me.


    1. Thanks so much erika. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such amazing people. You inspire me – like my Dad, you have taught me what it means to celebrate, stay positive and be grateful even in midst of life’s toughest challenges.


  2. Hey Pal,

    Thinking of you today. I lost my dad to cancer, too. I know the feeling of having the wind knocked out of you at random moments when life slows down and I have a few moments to just remember.

    But what I always remind myself is that my dad really isn’t gone. He lives on through me. My actions are a reflection of who he was and what he believed in and the things that he taught me. In the end, I am him in a thousand ways.

    I’m sure that’s true for you, too — and that’s beautiful. It doesn’t take back the fact that you can’t call him up and revel in his presence, but it does mean that you can know that he lives through you and that he’d be proud times ten of who you have become.

    Rock right on,


    1. Bill,
      Thanks so much. I was hesitant about writing this post but I am so glad that I did. Had I not written this reflection we probably would never have talked about our fathers. Knowing that you understand is comforting and your encouraging words truly lifted me up.

      Thanks friend!


  3. I really appreciate this reflection…I feel this way about 2 special people I’ve recently lost in my life also, so it always helps to know someone else is feeling it too. Thanks for being transparent in reflecting on his legacy and what he’s taught you.


    1. Nathalie,
      I appreciate the comment, it is always hard to know if I should share or not. While my life is pretty much an open book somethings are just so personal. I am glad that the post brought you some comfort.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for writing this, Chris. I have such admiration and respect for you and I think there’s such immense power in telling our stories. I’ll echo Bill in saying that I believe we move through the world with our loved ones and ancestors within us. Your dad lives on through you 🙂

    Thinking of you and your family.



    1. Mike,
      Thanks so much, I really appreciate the kind words. I wasn’t sure how it would be received but I felt it was necessary for me to put it down in words. Honestly, the last 10 months have been a struggle for me and I feel like shining a light on it will help me move forward in my new normal.

      Thanks for being such a good friend!


  5. Thank you for writing this, Chris! I have a lot of respect for you to blog about this and how it pertains to your learning as an educator and human being. It’s evident your father had a gigantic impact on who you are today and we all can be thankful for that. Thank you for telling part of his story with us. #YouMatter KOKO. -Brendan


  6. Brendan,
    Thanks so much for your kind words. I am happy that my posts radiated with so many. We all have loss and people that have made us who we are today – my Dad was so much more than I could put into words. I am glad you got a glimpse of him.

    Liked by 1 person

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