By his own admission, my father barely made it through high school. At a time when kids were working in the coal mines at age 14, he had more on his mind than the Three R’s. With no desire to go to college, he started working at any job he could find. Despite this lack of “formal” education, he is the wisest man I have ever met. He has taught me more than I have ever learned in a college classroom.
1. Can’t never could do nothing. Yes, this took me a while to grasp at first, but he was teaching his children to never say, “I can’t.” If you say “I can,” you are right; if you say, “I can’t,” you are also right. You never know what you can do until you try.
2. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. If any task is worth spending your time on, then give it your best. Don’t do anything half-way.
3. Be honest in everything you do. Whether it’s family, friends, or a job, honesty is always the best policy.
4. Family is family, no matter what. Despite many disagreements with his siblings, they always had a strong bond with each other.
5. Never get married until you find someone you love more than yourself. As a child, this seemed like an easy task, because I really didn’t like myself and thought it would be easy to find someone I loved more than I loved myself. As an adult, I realized it would be a 2-way street – both of us had to have that type of love and commitment. My parents recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. It’s not been perfect every day I’m sure, but no marriage is. Commitment to each other has kept them together.
6. Always go the extra mile. Whether it’s your employer, family, friends, or a stranger, go above and beyond what is expected.
7. Be a good neighbor. My dad loves to bake and raises a garden every year. He keeps all of his neighbors supplied with baked goods and veggies.
8. Trust in God’s provision. My dad has often told me, “I’ve never seen a rabbit carrying a lunch pail to work.” If God takes care of the little rabbits, we can trust Him to take care of us.
9. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. My dad has never been a cat person, but he did allow us to have cats as long as they were outside most of the time. He did not view animals as family members like so many people do today – cats, dogs, horses, cows all had a purpose and needed to fulfill that purpose not just lay around and expect us to feed them. A few years ago, however, my dad did a complete turn-around and wanted to find my mother a kitten for Christmas. It was a long search for just the perfect one, but my sister finally found her. In the time since, my dad has become a cat-lover, allows not only this cat to stay in the house 24/7, but also lets in a few of the strays he has been feeding. On of my favorite recent pictures of my dad is one of him bottle-feeding an orphaned kitten in his kitchen.
10. Don’t get above your raising. Don’t try to be someone you are not. You are who you are because of your life experiences and how you respond to them.
I will always be a Daddy’s girl, even as I slide toward the big 5-0. He has taught me so much, loved me through everything, and has tried to pass down the values taught him by his parents to his children and grandchildren. He never offers advice unless we ask him directly, has a wonderfully humble spirit, and always stands up for what’s right.