Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lessons from Daddy


I came late into my father's life (he was 42 when I was born) and he was forced into coping with a teenager during his middle fifties. He never really complained, though I wasn't always an easy girl to raise.

Daddy never lectured. He didn't moralize. He wasn't a preacher. He never said these things to me, but looking back and remembering, here are some of the things his life taught me:
  1. Live an honorable life; don't lie, cheat or steal and most of all, no matter how hard it may be, honor the major life commitments you make.
  2. Treat people the way you, yourself want to be treated; don't gossip, don't hold grudges, be friendly.
  3. Take care of your family. You don't have to be rich but you do have work and support those you love in the best way you can.
  4. Be kind to animals, even if you don't always like them. They depend on you and need you to make their lives tolerable.
  5. Read: books, magazines, newspapers, fiction, non-fiction, short stories. Reading helps soothe you, as well as keep you informed.
  6. Write. Daddy wrote reviews and small historical essays. He read train and civil war books and he wrote reviews of them. His writing was his artistic outlet.
  7. It's okay not to be a physical person or to know how to do physical things. Reading and writing make up for not leading a very physical life and not being able to repair things around the house.
  8. Enjoy travel and do as much as you can afford. See new sights and open yourself to the experience. Don't be afraid of new places and new things.
  9. Attend church, honor God, but don't use religion to beat others up.
  10. Make your bed every day; it will help you organize your life.
Daddy was good man, a man of his era. He loved the mountains. He loved his wife. He loved a good, dry martini. He loved KU football and basketball. He wanted his bed made every day and he expected his wife to make it. That, and the fact that he was to be the bread-winner of the house, were probably his two most annoying philosophies. He did not expect his only child to find a husband to support her; instead he made it clear he was fine with my working. He did expect me to make the bed -- something I've always had trouble doing, even when living in his house. He also wanted a cocktail every night before dinner and a nightcap suited him fine, too. I've been told he once loved fine clothes but when he had a family to support on a newspaper man's salary, he gave them up and bought cheap suits, ties, overcoats, and hats. He only wore jeans on a the rare Saturday or in the mountains. I always remember him wearing a tie to church.

I believe he loved me without exceptions and without qualifications. That love has sustained me all my life.

1 comment:

mary said...

sounds like a great guy!