Today, many of Dad’s lessons would be considered politically incorrect. But they worked for me.
If Dad said so, I believed it.
When I was little, he seemed taller than he would be later. And his words were as those from a burning bush. They were the basics and left room for interpretation as I grew older, but as building blocks they were pretty solid.
If you believe in God and truly want to be a good person, it doesn’t make any difference what church you attend.
People of different colors and ethnicity are as good as we are: It is unfair to judge a person by their skin color or how well they speak English.
Education is the ladder over any hurdle, but you have to be willing to climb it.
Abraham Lincoln was a great president because he worked hard and was honest. That proved that no matter how poor your beginnings, you could amount to something in America.
Lazy people do not deserve to own as much as people who work hard and apply themselves. But do not judge a person’s value by their wealth. Value is determined by the size of the heart, not the wallet.
What kind of work you choose is not what is most important. What’s important is doing the best job you can, even if the job is digging ditches. A person who enjoys going to work every day is a success.
Don’t cheat and don’t lie. If you make mistakes, face the music. It’s better to admit your shortcomings than to make things worse by making excuses or blaming others for your failings.
It’s better to walk away from a fight than to pick one. But there may be times when you have to stand your ground. Do it with resolve, but not malice.
In marriage, it’s better if both partners are willing to give more than they get back. It’s not about keeping score.
Moral courage is of greater value than physical courage. Many can climb mountains, but too few will stand against public rebuke.
If you can’t afford to lose, don’t gamble.
Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you throw all your other judgments out of kilter. It helps you forgive others, too.
A smile and sincere greeting don’t cost a thing but carry great value. It gives both ways.
Phony people eventually get shown up.
Dad liked to quote Fess Parker in the TV portrayal of Davy Crockett saying, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”
In vacation bible school, we made plaster of Paris gifts for Fathers Day. Those gave way to tie clasps and handkerchiefs and ties, none of which seemed adequate. But there was a time, as I flailed through adolescence, when Dad’s wisdom seemed to tarnish. I grew tired of the truisms and corny platitudes.
He endured it patiently: “Someday, you’ll be amazed as how much smarter I got.”
It was a promise. Gospel.
He was right.
The time came when I was a father, with two sons of my own. For a couple of years, we all vacationed together in a rented house at the beach — Mom and Dad, my wife and our two sons.
Dad, Brian and I would rise early, leaving the others to sleep in, and walk up to have breakfast at a restaurant the boardwalk, a distance of more than a mile.
One golden sea-misted morning, with 11-year-old Brian out in front, Dad said, “I don’t feel up to a round trip this morning. I think I’ll turn around here and go back to the house.” He assured me he wasn’t ill, just feeling his years.
After watching him retreat, I turned and called to Brian, who was far down the way we had been going and was aware that I was in the middle of an allegory.