The Wisdom of My Dad

My dad passed away on July 14, 2020, after a long illness. He suffered a massive heart attack on September 14, 1994, and nearly died. He underwent risky quadruple bypass surgery in January 1998, which the doctor only gave my dad a 50% chance of surviving. His health declined with a combination of congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and a myriad of other issues.

Despite his numerous health problems, my dad always maintained his wit and sense of humor up to the last days of his life. This enduring sense of humor was a family trait and born out of a childhood that included lots of farm labor, an alcoholic father, and constant relocation.

Here are a few of his insightful observations.

1. Hunt something to laugh at because the things that will make you cry will always find you. This was his life motto.

2. The seriousness of your medical condition is directly related to how fast everyone around you in a hospital is moving. You’re doing alright if you are by yourself in a hospital emergency room. You should start to worry if you start drawing a crowd. You really need to worry if you start seeing a bunch of new people who are coming in just to look at you. That means you have something really weird.

3. The most useful tool in any home appliance repair is a hammer.

4. If using force doesn’t work to fix a problem, you’re clearly not using enough force.

5. Tell your loved ones that you love them whenever you see or talk to them. You never know if that’s the last time you will have that chance.

6. Being a grandparent is way more fun than being a parent. A sign in my parents’ home reads, “Grandchildren are the reward for not killing your own children.”

7. Your children will always value the time you spent with them more than the stuff you give them.

8. Never let your children beat you in a game, sport, etc. Losing is a part of life, and your child needs to learn how to lose gracefully. Plus, it increases the meaningfulness of when your child finally wins. But my brother never beat my dad at basketball.

9. Sometimes it is ok to get your kid out of school and go see a movie. One of my fondest memories of my dad is the day he got me out of school to go see the movie “Memphis Belle.”

10. Some of the smartest people you will ever meet are sweeping floors and cutting hair.

11. Treat the president of a company and the janitor with the same level of respect.

12. Your elders have stories that are better than almost every movie or book.

13. Bugs Bunny is the greatest philosopher of the 20th century.

14. Someone pays you to do a job; then you need to do that job to the best of your ability.

15. Always follow through with your commitments.

16. If you’re ever caught sleeping on the job, just shout, “Amen!” so they’ll think you were just praying.

17. The pretty ones aren’t always that pretty on the inside.

18. If you don’t do favors, don’t ask for one!

19. Don’t take life that seriously. You’re not going to make it out alive anyway.

20. Never make the cook angry.

21. Always be nice to nurses. They’re the ones that have access to your meds.

22. The only thing you have control of in this life is yourself, so use it carefully.

23. I’ll probably find out I’m dead on Facebook.

24. Say you mean and mean what you say!

25. Love is best shown by what you do, not merely what you say.

My dad was not a “great” man. He was not a captain of industry, an important political figure, or an acclaimed scientist. But he was a good man. He loved his wife, children, grandchildren, and family with all of his strength. My dad has provided an enduring legacy that I want to continue and uphold.

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