Thanks, Dad – Wisdom From Our Fathers

Thinking back in time I remember how much I looked up to my father. My Dad was just an ordinary working man. He got on the train every morning and went into the city to work. He worked for an import-export company and was in charge of arranging shipments to and from foreign countries. To me, it was a really cool job as every once in a while he would take me down to the port and show me the big ships. One time, we even went aboard and that is when I learned a valuable lesson that stays with me 40 years later.

We were walking around the ship, seeing where the Captain steered the boat and where the crew slept when a disheveled old man with a scraggly beard approached my father and asked for some money so he could get a bite to eat. Well, I would have expected my father to politely refuse and send “the bum” on his way. Instead my father took out a few dollars and gave it to the man. The man’s eyes lit up and he went on his way. I asked my father why did he give money to that homeless bum. He just looked at me and said “son, someday you may need help and . . .” Well, I understood what he meant and now, I am much more generous toward strangers who may be in need of a helping hand. It really costs me nothing, but, the reward of knowing you helped another human being is priceless.

My Dad and I used to go to baseball games. This was back when the highest priced ticket was maybe $10.00. Well, being of moderate means, we always bought the seats in the upper deck. I think they cost $1.30 each. We still got hot dogs and peanuts and as a kid, I did’nt care if we were half a mile from the field. Dad would always say that the people sitting all the way down front were just throwing away their money and that they did’nt know the value of a dollar. I’m not saying my father was cheap, he just wanted to use the money he had on the more important things in life like paying the mortgage and saving for his kid’s college education. Anyway, after a few innings, when everyone had arrived for the game, we would “sneek down” to the box seats and give the usher a buck or two and get the best seats in the house. You could do that back in the old days.

Family vacations left good memories. Every summer my mother, father, sister and I would take a road trip somewhere not too far from home. One time we went to Niagra Falls, one time to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Driving 4 or 5 hours allowed plenty of time for words of wisdom. Sometimes it was a warning like “quit hitting your sister!” or sometimes it was answering one of my many questions. When are we going to get there? Where are we staying? Can I have the bed by the window? Well my mother would tell me to stop asking so many questions and to take a nap. Dad would humor me and answer each question as though it was of critical importance. Maybe it was his military background or maybe just because he had nothing better to do. In any event, knowing I could always ask my father anything gave me confidence to never be afraid to ask when you did not know. I spent my best school years peppering my teachers with my full arsenal of questions.

What my father really did for me was provide an authority figure that I knew would always look out for my best interests. He never forced me to do anything and always had an answer to any problem I might have. I hope I am like my father.