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June 13, 2024

Notes from Dad – An Excerpt

Hair Saloon News

By: Jason Meinershagen

The story below is an excerpt of the Preface from a new book called “Notes from Dad: Encouraging Dads and a Fatherless Generation with Stories and Lessons from Today’s Dads.” The book was compiled by Jason Meinershagen, a husband, a father of five, and a firefighter in St. Peters, MO. The book contains 34 stories from dads about their life experiences and the lessons learned from them, with the goal of teaching and inspiring a new generation of fathers and sons to create stronger relationships and lead a more purposeful and impactful life. We hope you find his story as inspirational and motivational as we do.    

I hate the interstate. Always have. Always will. I’ve been saying it for years. I’d rather run into a burning building than work a car crash on the interstate—any day of the week. I can predict what a fire will do, where it will go, how it will act as it grows. And I can be more accurate than most meteorologists are on any given day. The interstate is another thing. A game of “chance” as cars whiz past our emergency scene at full speed. Their only care at the moment is that our big red firetruck is making them late.

As we approached the scene of a crash one afternoon, one car was against the median wall, and a motorcycle was in the middle lane of the four-lane highway. We angled the truck in such a way to block both the left and middle lanes. This provided a protected area in front of the truck to work the scene while also leaving the two lanes to our right open for traffic. Sizing up the scene, I gave my radio report and prepared to step off the fire truck onto the interstate. As I placed my hand on the door handle and began to pull, my other hand set my helmet on my head. It didn’t fit. It was too small. Argh!

I immediately, instinctively, remembered ratcheting the adjustable strap so it would fit the head of my 5-year-old son. Just five minutes earlier, he was giggling and laughing with my helmet on his head as he played “firefighter” in the same seat while visiting the firehouse. In that flash of a moment, I recalled him standing there waving and saying, “I love you, Daddy,” as we pulled out of the firehouse, running lights and sirens to this car crash. I thought of him standing by the radio desk at the firehouse, eagerly listening to hear my voice on the radio.

And it was in that instant when my helmet didn’t fit that I paused ever so slightly. Not long, maybe two seconds at most—just long enough to make a difference. In that brief pause, a semitruck in the lane right next to us barreled past at full speed—inches from me as I sat in my seat, pulling on the handle to open the door. At that moment, I instantly realized the blessing in that helmet and how that brief two-second pause saved my life.

Jason Meinershagen and his family.
Jason Meinershagen and his family.

Have you ever given any thought to what you would do right now if you knew with certainty that tomorrow you would die? Would you act differently? Would you treat the people around you differently? Would there be something you’d want to say to those you love? Is there something that you’ve put off doing that you would quickly move to the front burner? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t?

What’s holding you back? Are you afraid of offending someone? Are you worried you might fail? Are you afraid of embarrassing yourself? Afraid you’d be laughed at? Do you think you have more time? That your time’s not up yet? That, “It won’t happen to me”?

With reflection in the days after that incident, I was overcome with emotion at how close I really came to being killed that day. One minute, playing with my 5-year-old son who looked up to and admired me so much that he was pretending to be like me. The next minute, I was literally inches and seconds away from being killed doing a job I loved. I was overcome with the guilt of already having missed out on so much of he and his brother’s short lives so far. I questioned whether I loved the job more than my wife and kids. Such is the brevity of life. When faced with death, we often find ourselves tearing into our own life to examine our priorities.

My experience on the highway that afternoon was actually the second close call in just a few short months that should have otherwise left me seriously injured or dead, save for divine intervention and God’s perfect timing. In the weeks afterward, with a fresh perspective on life, I had a clear vision for the path my life would begin to take. My purpose became obvious. I started writing notes for my children, eventually creating a blog where I would journal and leave nuggets of truth, wisdom, and advice on myriad topics. A writer by nature, it was how I knew to tell the story of my life and let my children know who I was via my own words, not someone else’s, if I were to die while they’re young.

I set out to chase the purpose God has placed on my heart to engage, encourage, enlarge, empower, and equip my sons to be the men God is calling them to be. In doing so, I’m pursuing my passion to do likewise for other dads, to strengthen the bond between fathers and their families as we each strive to be the husband our wives need and the dad our children deserve. That’s my goal with this book.

Whether you are a son or daughter, mom or dad, husband or wife, sister or brother. Whether you grew up with a dad who was engaged and active in your life, or was absent or abusive (either physically or emotionally). Whether your dad is still alive or long removed from this life, this book contains universal and applicable wisdom for all of us, regardless of the role we fill within our family. My passion and purpose are to reach fathers and a fatherless generation. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re not a dad or your dad is (or was) absent in your upbringing, this book is for you, too! I believe you’ll be encouraged as only their children can be when they hear their dad’s and father’s words speaking love and affirmation into their hearts.

If you’re a father, I believe you will be encouraged in this book that you’re not alone in the struggles you face. I believe the words you read will enlarge your heart for your family. I know this book will empower and equip you to be the dad you’re called to be. The dad you want to be. The dad you need to be, for your children’s sake.

The brevity of life. Life is short. You’re only seconds, inches, away from the moment that will take you from your children’s lives forever. I encourage you. I implore you. Go enjoy them. Do a puzzle with them. Read them a book. Get on the floor and play with them. Go outside for a walk or a game of catch. Pick up the game controller and play some Fortnite (or whatever game they’re playing) with them.

Meet them in their world. On their level. In their space. On their time.

Jason’s excerpt above provides just a glimpse into the amazing stories covered in “Notes from Dad.” If you’ve found yourself inspired and you would like to read more, please stop into your neighborhood Hair Saloon and ask your Saloon Coordinator for a free copy of the book today. All that we ask is that when you’ve finished the book, you return it to Hair Saloon or pass it along to another person who you know who could benefit from reading these inspiring and impactful stories of fatherhood.

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