As Father’s Day draws near, I’ve been thinking of my dad and how I was lucky to be his son.
Dad was born in 1897 - yes, that’s eighteen ninety-seven - and he was 50 years old when I was born. As a young man, he served in the Navy during World War I and was in his prime during the Great Depression. In the early 1940’s he married my mother, who was 24 years younger than he. Together they would experience the government sanctioned rationing of gas, sugar and other commodities that came about during World War II.
The experiences and lessons that came from living thru both World Wars and the Great Depression provided him unique insights about life that he passed along to my sister, two brothers and me. Oftentimes, these lessons were passed along in a very strict and disciplined manner. Even so, I have come to appreciate how fortunate I was to be raised by such a wise man.
My dad was never free with his money. If I asked for a penny to buy a trinket or a piece of candy he would tell me that if I wanted something bad enough, I could work, save my money and buy whatever I wanted. It instilled in me a work ethic that I and my siblings have to this day.
I remember that my dad had a certain place for all his tools, which we kids could use with the proviso that we put it back in as good and clean of condition as we found it. On occasion, I would forget to put a tool I had used that day back in its’ place. I remember vividly him waking me from my sleep and telling me to go find the tool I’d used, clean it and then put it in its’ proper place. There was no “I’m letting you get by this time, but don’t do it again” with my dad. He taught me the important lesson of responsibility and doing what I had agreed to do.
Dad believed strongly in the FIVE R’s which included not only the common three: (R)eading, w(R)iting, and a(R)ithmetic but two other R’s as well; (R)espect for ourselves and others and (R)esponsibility for ourselves and for our actions. These five R’s have served me well over the years.
I am also grateful that he took such an active role in our schooling. Homework was done at the tables of our family’s restaurant with an extra effort made for any upcoming tests. When I had spelling tests, he had me write the spelling words out five times and then he would test me. If I got one of the words wrong, he made me write out, by hand every word - not just the word I missed by every word - TEN times. For sure, it caused me to focus in and be quite certain that I knew the correct spelling before declaring to him that I knew the words! This has translated into paying attention to details - a concept that has been paramount in my business success.
For sure, Dad raised my siblings and me to be self sufficient. Maybe he knew that he might not live a long life and wanted us kids prepared for whatever might come our way. If so, he was prophetic as he died when I was 16. I made it through my later teenage years without him because he left me with confidence and a strong sense of self reliance. And for that, I am so grateful.
Over the years, my dad gave me some great one-line advice. Here are a few that I’ve found useful:
- Don’t talk about doing something, just do it. - When talking with someone, look them in the eye. - When meeting someone; smile, give a firm handshake and look them in the eye and say “it’s nice to meet you”. - If you put something back where you found it, you’ll always know where to find it the next time you want it. - If you don’t use your head, you’ll probably have to use your back. - Keep your eyes, ears and nose open; and your mouth shut. - Elimination is a very good thing; never put off going to use the toilet. - If you lie down in front of a door, don’t be surprised if you get used as a doormat. - You’ve got to believe in yourself, before you can ever win. - Be careful about loaning a friend money as you more than likely will lose your money AND your friend. - If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right, the first time. - Trust in the Good Lord. - Take time to sharpen the axe.
Dad’s wonderful lessons and teachings have been very meaningful to me over the years and I am most grateful for them. Gone now for some 53 years, he still resides in my heart with great appreciation for loving me the way he did! Thank you, Dad!!