"I care more what you’ll think of me at 35 than I do now"

The above was a near constant refrain from my dad over the years, it was probably most used from 5 yrs old to 19 or something.  I’ve come to appreciate the sheer genius of this line as I’ve grown older.  As you’d expect, I had zero appreciation for it when he was saying it.  What I didn’t appreciate at that time was that, as a kid, I wasn’t the intended audience.  The intended audience was two:  my adult self and, perhaps most importantly, my dad himself.

This was really a) an excellent north star for a dad.  Imagine all your actions through the lens of your adult kid rather than the immediate b) a reminder to be patient, very, very patient.  The reward you seek, this line regularly reminded my dad (and reminds me today), is far off in the distance, pace yourself and have patience.
At 17, I was a shameful punk and did things I shutter to reflect upon now. I wasn’t speaking to my folks when I left for college for reasons so offensive I don’t care to recall them.  
But I never forgot that saying, and on my 35th birthday I sent him a letter telling him what I thought of him.  That letter is a testament to how he nailed that mark with a precision of a real pro.   I was never the little kid who thought his dad was superman, but by the time I wrote that letter, I’d become pretty awestruck by the bullets I saw bouncing off his chest.