Thursday, August 14, 2008

A time to remember

I am thankful to see and hear from some friends that you have been watching for updates here.

I have waited to change this blog for two reasons. First, I really believe in the message of the last blog and we can not get that kind of wisdom too often. Second, the words for what to say next just would not come.

Well, that is not entirely true. They came. They were powerful for those who needed them. My delivery, may not have been the best delivery of the words you are about to read. The words below were from my part of my paying respect to my sweet father.

I thought about asking Dad how he would like to be remembered. Some of my friends had asked their parents that question. I decided against asking that question for two reasons. First, I did not want Dad to think he should give up. Second, the question I believe would have been the better question would have been; “What should we all remember?”

Dad would have rather spent time expounding on that question rather than talking about himself.

As so, here is my humble attempt to share some things Dad would want us to remember.

From a very early age, I knew that I should only invite a friend over to the house if they would respect our home and our parents. I knew it was important to pick good friends.

In our early teens, we all got the “Drive”. We all were taken on a drive to an area where the families seemed to be less fortunate than we were. We were taken down two different streets of homes both built at the same time. One street was well-maintained and one was in pretty bad shape. On the drive we all learned two things. Take care of what you have and stay thankful.

My senior year in high school I was asked to represent our school at Glidden Durkee. They were starting a science “think tank” of ten local high school students from ten different high schools.

Dad was so proud of me. He thought this would be a great opportunity. I might get a scholarship. I would learn interesting things and meet new people. Dad told everyone in Rotary, everyone he played golf with, everyone he played bridge with and everyone he worked with about my being chosen for this great honor.

After a few weeks of participating in the “think tank”, I knew that although I loved science, I was probably not going to become a Chemical Engineer. We worked in the lab for 5 hours at a time and it was very quiet. The thought of eight or more hours a day in silence, did not sound like something I wanted to do. We were a family of talkers and somewhere in me I knew that whatever I did with my life, being quiet was not going to be a strong part of it.

It hurt to think about telling Dad. I knew he was going to be disappointed. When I told Dad, he asked why I thought this career choice would not work. I gave him my reasons. Although you could see he was disappointed, he never said so. He instead said, “I have always told you kids that I do not care what you do for a living, but I expect you to be good citizens. I expect you to give back more than you take from this world.”

In my 20’s I did not ask for a lot of advice. Big mistake.

Consequently, in my 30’s life became a teacher of humility.
It was in my 30’s that Dad began to give me my best advice.

Dad’s wisdom on how to handle heartbreak, take long walks. Moving large muscles increases your endorphin levels and sitting around thinking about it is never going to help.

Although he did not tell me this, I imitated his love of gardening. There is something about growing things that helps you see beyond today.

Dad’s wisdom on parenting teenagers was to pick your battles. Remember that your children need to push against you and share their ideas. This will help them later in life.

In my 40’s, Dad gave me great wisdom on parenting kids in their 20’s. He said we should remember that people can change their lives. Everyone is motivated by something. Find what motivates them and you can help them change.

Then he went on to tell me something that really surprised me. At 26, Dad did not have a lot of self-confidence. In fact, one night he took a look at his life and decided that if he kept making the decisions he was making that he would end up a loser.

Let me assure you that Dad was quick to let me know that he had not done anything morally wrong and he had always worked hard. He just did not feel successful.

So, I asked Dad what he did. He said that he went home from work that night and wrote down all his decisions and what he thought were the consequences of those decisions. Then he wrote down all of his parents’ decisions and what he thought were the consequences of those decisions.

Then he wrote his list on what he wanted to change in his life. After that night, he said things began to get better.

Dad believed we could all do the same thing.

In this last year Dad gave me some lessons on love.

Micheal and I were staying with him a year ago. On the second day of the visit, Dad told me he thought it was good that Micheal and I were still holding hands. He was encouraged by this. It is good to be affectionate with one another.

He went on to say that he had made a decision to change something about himself. He was telling me about this decision because he did not want me to think he was making this change just because he was getting old or because he was losing it.

I said, “Ok Dad. What do you think you need to change?”

Dad said that he had been talking with a friend who was encouraging him to tell his children that he loved them more often.

Dad went on to tell me why he thought he was not good at this.

I told Dad, “It is ok. I know you love me. We all know you love us.”

Dad said. “No, Linda. It is not ok. I have made up my mind that this is something I am going to change. Whenever you call, before you hang up, you always say I love you. From now on, I am going to say it back. Who knows, I may even get so good at this, that I start to say it first.”

For the last year, the last thing I said to Dad before we said good bye was “I Love You”.

Dad always said it back and sometimes he even said it first.

Dad at 78 was still giving more than he took…still giving great lessons.
Pick Good Friends
Stay Thankful
Be Good Citizens
Pick Your Battles
Be Affectionate
Say I Love You

And we should never miss an opportunity to encourage someone as people can change their lives at any age.

We all loved you Dad and we know you loved us back.


At 6:42 AM, Blogger corkscrew said...

Great Blog honey,
There is no question that your father raised a great little girl that he loved tremendously. I was and am honored that he understood how much I loved you as well and that he entrusted you to me.

His lessons and conversations are immortal in my mind. That is something he and my father share, the ability to boil life down to the morsals. I only have good memories; some much funnier than others. I am not worried about Al; I believe he is well. We have not laughed together for the last time.

He always amazed me at his willingness to expand or alter his thinking if he understood or decided to; most folks find that incredibly difficult at any age...even when he said I love you or ask God questions.

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Maximus Doom said...

Incredible wisdom for all ages to cling to; I am glad you shared. It is something to live by every day. This was great and well worth the read and the memory.


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