This is the first year I won’t be able to hug and kiss my father on Father’s Day. It is almost surreal that he’s really not here. As I reviewed some of the notes I saved and wrote these past few years, all signs pointed to the opinion our mother would be the first one we would lose. We never imagined it would be dad who would suddenly become ill and pass so quickly. I realize there are many that didn’t or don’t have a father figure like I had growing up. Recognizing that makes me sad, but sharing part of his life and legacy makes me happy, especially on Father’s Day.
I hear the phrase, You work hard, then you die, more often these days. Should we even try to make an impact? That comment doesn’t mean we should curl up and quit. Dad certainly didn’t. It just sheds some light on the reality of life and death. I believe there is more beyond just our days here, which is comforting, but whether we like it or not, we are all on the same earthly train that someday comes to an end.
My Father's Favorite Hymns
Some years ago, I wrote and recorded an album called My Father’s Favorite Hymns. Even though it won some awards and the sheet music sells fairly regularly, it was mostly a gift to my parents. During the last weeks of dad’s life, I would bring my small portable keyboard and play some of those hymns as he sat back in his recliner. I tried to keep my composure, seeing his eyes filled with tears as he mouthed the lyrics. Those are sweet memories I keep close to my heart.
Work Ethic and Family
On a recent trip to Georgia, I was reminded again of how much dad and his whole family were loved and respected. The Denham Tannery made leather shoes for the soldiers during the civil war. The large, brick smokestack still stands. The docent in the Uncle Remus museum mentioned the little town used to be called Denham-ville after my family who had given so much to the war effort. I was humbled, yet not totally surprised to realize the history and hard work that had been carried down for more generations than I knew. That work ethic and focus on family is an enduring quality I value.
Below are six principles I learned from my dad. They are not only important for dads on Father’s Day, but for all of us who are impacting others in some way. Whether working with a scout group, mentoring a business colleague or teaching courses, your life is touching someone else and you can choose how that plays out. I hope you choose wisely.
Six Principles I Learned from my Dad
Live Purposely: There was never a day dad didn’t love to work. From being a L.A. County Fire Captain to building buildings, he had a plan. Get your tools ready the night before is a principle heavily engrained in my life and it applies to most every area of life.
Give Freely: We are still hearing of people and situations my father gave to because there was a need. He never hesitated, though we started warning and watching him when he was scammed several times.
Be Present: The kid-raising years are extremely busy. Being present doesn’t mean being around all the time, but around enough to be available and involved. There was never a time I felt my father was too busy to talk with me, even though he worked long hours.
Look to the Future: Dad wasn’t afraid of the future. He prepared and saved, as his family had come from the Depression. In fact, he built the first little house he and my mom lived in with scrap lumber he gathered from the lumberyard. He didn’t spend what he didn’t have and saved more than he needed.
Nurture Special Relationships: Dad talked to his brother in Texas every single day. In fact, when my Uncle Richard heard how ill dad was, he, with my aunt, drove out to visit. This was when my uncle was sporting quite a large stomach tumor, which was very visible under his shirt. They loved each other dearly.
Enjoy Life: One of the phrases I will never forget that dad said to me is I’m not afraid of dying, but I love living! Even though he really believed this phrase, there was still a big part of him that didn’t want to let go when it was time. This phrase has impacted me more than any other at the halftime of my life. I want to take time to enjoy the roses in our yard, take more mini-vacations and even though I love to work, take time out to fulfill part of my bucket list. None of us can number our days, but we can live each day to the fullest. I wish this for you, whether you are a student, single adult, a mom or a dad. Enjoy your day and enjoy life!