It’s Father’s Day weekend. Father’s Day gets some serious short shrift in this culture. Kids spend a week making projects for Mom at school, and when Father’s Day rolls around—nothin’. Where’s the justice in that setup? So this week I dedicate my 7 Quick Takes to What I Learned From My Dad.
Nothing is as black and white as it seems.
Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is the best way to get what you want. There’s a story behind this one. One summer while I was working for Dad on the farm, he called into town to sell some of his grain. They didn’t get it done, and that very day the price plummeted. The manager came out that afternoon and perched on the back of the hulking red cultivator we were repairing. Dad sat down beside him, and these two men proceeded to shoot the breeze while I sat, bored and fidgety, in the background. But after a while I began to realize that the visitor was waiting for Dad to open the awkward subject, to offer absolution and take the fall. Only Dad didn’t do it. He just sat waiting. This went on for an hour. An hour, folks. At long last, the manager slapped his legs, sighed and said, “Well…we’re gonna honor the price you were supposed to get. It’s gonna cost me, but we’ll honor it.” They shook hands, he left, and Dad and I went back to work. Now that’s a lesson, folks.
As a child, you may not recognize the tender heart hiding behind the tough guy exterior. But it’s there. Wow, is it there.
From Dad, I learned the value of rising early. (In fairness, Mom tried to teach us this one—she got us up every summer at 7a.m. to work in the garden before it got hot—but we fought her kicking and screaming all the way.) I worked two summers for Dad on the farm, and the first was the Flood of 93. We couldn’t work in the fields for a really long time, and once the sun came out, we went into high gear. I remember rushing out the door at 6:45 a.m. to take full advantage of the weather, trying to keep up with Dad’s long strides as we crossed the grass to the driveway where the tractors waited. It was going to be a muggy scorcher of a day, but at 6:45 a.m. the dew was fresh on the grass, and the very air sparkled in the yellow, slanting rays of the newly-risen sun. There’s a magic in the first minutes of the day that is gone by the time 98% of the population gets out the door, and I would never, ever have experienced it if it wasn’t for Dad.
A faithful person doesn’t have to be a perfect person. You just have to keep trying.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.