My Father’s Lessons

Posted on June 18, 2011

“Not every successful man is a good father.  But every good father is a successful man.” Robert Duvall

Shortly before my father’s death five years ago, I was able to share with him a list of things which he had taught me.  While unable to speak following his stroke, he managed to squeeze my hand lightly and crack the smallest smile in showing his appreciation.  It is a moment that will live with me for the rest of my life and has helped me grieve his loss, knowing that I got to say everything I wanted to say to him before he passed.

I hope this will stimulate your thinking about what your dad taught you and what you hope to teach your son or daughter someday.  I would love to hear from you and post your reflections on our site!  Happy Father’s Day.

 My Father’s Lessons

“If you are going to do a job, don’t do it half-assed!”

“There are two ways to do things, the right way and the wrong way.”

“I wish I had spent more time with you kids.”

When coming home with my first D in 3rd grade: “Don’t worry about it, no one can read my handwriting either, someday you will hire a secretary to do it for you.”

When not complaining after being grounded for curfew: “You’ve handled it like a real man, here’s your keys back.”

“@#$%” (After my first car accident.  The only time I ever heard him cuss.)

“I wasn’t going to spank you for biting your brother, but I will for lying to me!”

“That’s the end of our first lesson!”  (After running into our other car on my first driving lesson.)

“Never cuss when you make a bad shot in golf.  Guys won’t want to play with you because you are trying to make yourself out to be better than you are.  If you were better, you wouldn’t have made that shot!”

“Just try your best.”

“My parents had a loveless marriage.  I didn’t want that.”

“We didn’t have religion.”

My dad’s favorite little song: “Let’s have another cup of coffee, and another piece of pie.”

“How you treat your body in your 30’s and 40’s is how it will be in your 50’s and 60’s.”

“I’m real proud of you.  You are a hell of a man.”

“We have to get out early if we are going to get them (rabbits, fish).” (Of course, we never did!)

“We use to just throw cans and bottles out the car window.”

“Someday you wake up and realize you are tired of going out for another Bud and want to settle down.”

“You have to be careful.  Some girls will try and get you to get them pregnant so you’ll have to marry them.” (During my facts of life talk on my 18th b-day.)

“They look like a bunch of girls!”  (Referring to The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.)

“You can’t soar like an eagle in the morning if you are going to hoot like an owl the night before.”

“Now get up and get a job!”  (The morning after returning from 6 months abroad.)

After graduating from high school:  “You have three choices:  go to college, come home in the summer, follow my rules and I’ll pay for it; go get a job, pay rent, live at home and follow my rules; leave.”

“What kind of mileage does it get?”

Following stories of volunteering for pilot training at the start of World War II and then being sent back home because of his birth marks and seizure disorder: “I was humiliated to go back home and then be one of the few men back at college. Three hundred men left from our class that day, only thirty came back home.”

When discussing how he tried to hide his birth-marked hand on the first day of freshman orientation at Washington University in St. Louis:  “The football coach said to me: Son, take your hand out of your pocket.  Look around you, everyone in this room has something they are self-conscious about and they are too busy worrying about their own problems to really care about yours!”

“Everyone loves to be helpful.  Just ask them a question!”

“Everyone loves to talk about themselves.”

Shortly after his first stroke: “I’m still going!  I can’t wait to get out on the course again.”

“I’m so proud of Alex and all my grandchildren.”

When asked what his favorite color was:  “Blond!”

When touching a woman’s sleeve:  “Is this felt?  It is now.”

“He had Russian hands and Roman fingers!”

“How was your mileage?”

A month before his death:  “We can’t afford it!”

On the phone, a week before his death:  “Mom and I are having just a great time.”

When the hospice nurse came for the first time:  “We all have to die sometime.”

His final words to me: “I Love You”

“In Grace and Dignity, you taught us to live.  It was in Grace and Dignity that you taught us to die”.

Love, Your Son




Posted in Reflections

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