I believe in the wisdom of our fathers…or at least in mine. I believe there is a world outside of my generation’s comprehension and if we pay attention to our parents, we can catch a glimpse.
In December of 1992, my father presented all of his children with a gift of conscience. Writing to us from his heart and out of his engrained sense of duty, he laid out a list of 101 points he wanted to impart. Many of them were reminiscent of the long, arduous speeches experienced in my youth. But some of them were poignant and smacked of a kind of truth that I had never considered.
Over the years as I read and reread his amusing and surprisingly insightful reflections, I began to realize where many of my own personal beliefs and mantras originated. Some of his ideas were remarkably simple, but he asked us not to be mislead by that fact, and begged, “Don’t overlook the simple things in life. Over the long haul, they turn out to be the most important.”
Here’s what I know to be true:
Any job not worth doing is certainly not worth doing well.
You should say at least one complimentary thing to someone everyday. More if you can, even if you have to reach for it.
Study hard. You never know what you’ll need to know in the future.
All green vegetables are good for you and can be made to taste good, with the exception of Brussels sprouts, which are poison.
Teach your children to read early and help them be enthusiastic about learning. It’s your job, not the school districts.
Let towels dry and use them again. Their not dirty, just wet.
Unfrozen chicken lasts about four or five days in the fridge. Unfrozen hamburger about five or six.
Lay claim, early, to at least one item that belonged to your grandparents and feature it prominently in your home.
Emphasize what your kids do well and don’t make an issue of what they don’t do well.
Never tell someone you love them unless you really do. There is no excuse for a lie of that magnitude.
You should never shout at you children. It hurts worse than spanking.
Spend as much time as you can with your family. It’s your real job.
Don’t “hold it”. Ask someone, anyone, where the restroom is, even if it embarrasses you.
Eat things you aren’t familiar with. It won’t kill you, unless it’s Brussel sprouts, and it’s a cheap adventure.
All parents should tell their kids what it was like when you were young. It will bore them to tears, of course, but it will give them a sense of perspective.
Love isn’t a puddle of something into which you fall. It’s a way of treating another person.
Parents should never miss a school play, piano recital or soccer game. Your kids will say they understand, but they won’t. Nor should they.
Vote in every election in which you are entitled.
Learn to forgive your parents. If they made mistakes, and we all did, it was through ignorance, not malice.
Most importantly, I believe there are good men out there, who know how to be good parents. I believe my father is one of them. And I’m a better person for it.
This I believe.
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