Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Fathers Day......

This morning I opened up my Wall Street Journal, flipped to the weekend section and under the "Family" section saw a story entitled "A Father's tough Love". The story reminded me a little of my childhood growing up. The pictures of five boys, a mom and a dad dressed in 70's "loud" clothing and the long parted in the middle hair is very similar to pictures from my family from that time. The writer in the story portrays his day as a tough guy both in and out of the house. He sites a story of going to a wrestling match and a few "thugs" stepping in front of them on a concession line, only to be told (and they listened) to go to the back of the line.

I remember a similar story from my Dad. Once walking home on a Saturday afternoon I was confronted by a older kid from the neighborhood asking me for money. When I told him I didn't have any he said "So anything I find I keep". I didn't say anything and he proceeded to "pat me down" found nothing and walked away. I mistakenly continued home and told my father this story. He looked at me and grabbed my chin and said "Where are the marks"? I said "What marks". He said "The marks from the fight". I said "Dad there wasn't a fight he just checked my pockets and walked away". Still holding my chin he said, "You never let anyone go through your pockets without a fight". Then disgusted he walked away. I never forgot it, and months later he proved he was not all talk but action also. My father new the kid who went through my pockets. A kid named Ozzie. He was 4(ish) years older then me and "hung out" at the local park. One day my dad was painting a window in our apartment when he saw Ozzie walking down the street. He saw him walk up to another kid and after a brief conversation started patting his pockets. My Dad started screaming from the window "Don't move! Stay right there" and ran down a flight of stairs across the street straight up to Ozzie. "Give him back his money" my Dad said. No you have it all wrong, we are friends, right ? looking over at the stunned victim. No my Dad said "give him back his money now". Silence followed then my Dad said, "So anything I find I can keep". With that Ozzie reached into his pocket and handed over a few coins to the still frightened victim. My Dad then sent the kid on his way and went back to his painting.

Another quick story, one day my Dad was driving home from work, waiting at a light for oncoming traffic to stop so that he could make a left hand turn. When the traffic stopped my Dad proceeded to turn left. A driver on the oncoming side swerved around stopped traffic and hit my Dad's car. It was a minor accident and no one was hurt. The young driver jumped out of the car and apologised. He said it was all his fault, but said he was in a big rush, and wanted to not go through insurance. He asked my Dad to call him to take care of the details. My Dad said "Not a problem" took the driver's telephone number and went on his way. A day or so later my Dad called the driver, the young man basically told my Dad to go away. There was no police report nor any proof that it was actually his fault (remember my Dad was making a left hand turn). I know my Dad was furious but there was little he could do at that time. But remember all things come to those who wait. Years later my Dad was interviewing people for a position at the company he worked at and guess who came walking thought the door?!?! My Dad started by asking him "Have you ever been involved in an accident with a white station wagon"? "No" said the young man "I never owned a white station wagon". My Dad rephrased his question "Have you ever hit a white station wagon"? The young man now a bit flustered replied "Yes". "That was me", my dad responded. For the next 20 minutes or so the young man was peppered with questions and really had no chance to recover. He didn't get the job, but my Dad got a little closure on the incident.

These two situation's (as well as countless others) had a big impact on my life. Always stand up for yourself, and what goes around comes around. They are true. These were not lessons my Dad set out to teach but rather lessons learned from the way he lived his life. I try to remember that when I am around my own kids. It is not only what you say, but what you do. My Dad has been gone almost 24 years now and I still remember his last words to me "Take your time". I have interpreted them different ways over the years, but I think the way I want to interpet them now is to enjoy the things around you now and not worry so much about the things from yesterday and tomorrow.

Happy Father's Day.

To read the WSJ Article CLICK HERE



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