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“Be the one” aka: one of the lessons my father taught me that is resonating in my head & heart.

December 13, 2012

When I was a child, I followed my father around like the dogs follow me around.  My father worked many hours and traveled a great deal, when he was at home he was still working.  My early memories of my father are of him sitting at his desk in the family room working on endless piles of paperwork.  The work of a salesman is never ending.  When he was able to put the paperwork on hold he was then to task in the yard, on the house, building a bed, a sewing machine cabinet, or repairing one of many things that we had broken.  I learned to keep busy and stay to task from a man who never sat to watch soaps and eat bon bons.  If I had the chance now I’d ask him if we could do that.  Would love to just allow him that time to discover what the term “bored” meant. 


One late summer day I felt that the first day of school was approaching way too fast for me.  I was NOT in a hurry to get to 5th grade and the days were not slowing as that dreaded end of summer loomed.   I walked into the family room on my way out the door to hop on my bike and stopped, just briefly, to be enlightened by my father, who was as usual, tackling piles of paperwork and reports at his desk.  I asked him if time slowed down as one gets older.  It seemed like life at “his” age became increasingly more boring so the days must slow down more than my summer had!  He put his pen down, pulled me close and looked me in the eyes and said “No.  It goes faster.”  Then gave me the ok to hit the road toward childhood as he turned back to rewrite a tedious and time-consuming pre-computer, hand written report.  Those four words have echoed in my head from that day to today.  Louder and clearer as I reared my kids and moved to the age, and quickly passed, when he gifted me with that lesson.  As the days speed past I try to embrace every amazing moment of them that I can.  Soaking in every sight that makes me smile, each and every one of them.  Absorbing every great feeling that warms my heart.  Being inspired by every experience that lifts my spirit.  All of this in honor and because of lessons taught to be by a man whose time on this earth expired way too soon.


I was incredibly blessed to learn unconditional love by being bestowed with it.  I would put my last dollar on the bet that my father invented unconditional love if I didn’t know better which of my Fathers actually did.  Before my father died in November of 2005, I was able to organize and facilitate a celebration for my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary.  It became a living wake for my father.  Even before that day my father was jokingly, yet inquisitively, asked how to make it 40 years in marriage.  He would reply with all seriousness “You give 80% and hope for 20%.”  Now my mother truly gave more than 20% or their 40 union would not have been celebrated as joyously and admired as amazingly rare, as it was.  However, that is how he lived whether it was as husband, father, son, brother, uncle, or friend.  He never ceased to give what he could, when he could, and with as much love he could offer.   I have tried to practice this theory throughout my life but to be honest there were many times that I was walked on, taken advantage of, drained of way more than 80% and wondered how he possibly felt this was THE way to live.  The amazing thing is that I never once heard him mutter a word that I have found myself often mutter under my breath:  Karma.  Sometimes I am guilty of throwing that “hope it bites you” wish on those that do not appreciate that I am simply imitating those that walked before me and inspired me to give without expecting in return.  My fathers.


In my 11th year of life, my father conquered a battle that he had waged for most of his.  My father entered treatment for alcoholism and to keep himself accountable to being the man he wanted to be for my mother and for us, he became a practicing and active member of AA.  From that day forward the Serenity Prayer became our family’s creed.  To this day I repeat at least daily:  that I can only change the things that I am able to change and must have peace to accept those things, people, and behaviors around me that I simply am not in charge of and cannot change, this a constant challenge.  In addition to the Serenity Prayer my father’s life change allowed me to witness him become the most reliable, compassionate, unconditionally loving and endearing husband, father, relative and friend.  I learned the art of 12 stepping and witnessed him “be the one” friend that was present 24/7/365.  I watched him all too often leave to visit a friend or a friend’s spouse in need, and ironically “be the one” that stood next to that friend as they held the hand of a loved one who passed from this world to the next losing their battle to cancer.  I saw him sit at his desk and push aside his paperwork, pre-email, to “be the one” who would write endless letters to family and friends who needed his masterful words of encouragement.  When there was a need I learned that it was the right and just practice to not bow behind the curtain of “too much work”, “not enough funds”, “family commitment and responsibilities” but rather to “be the one” to offer help.  He walked many to the light.  He led many back to dignity.  He gave every penny he could to help friends/family hang on.  He didn’t consider that there was another who could take his place, he stepped forward every time and took the task head on.  Courage is not always demonstrated from the strongest warrior but more likely from the most committed.


My father would have turned 74 on Dec, 21, 2012, however, he left this side of heaven 7 years ago yet the lessons he impressed on me are alive and well and I have passed them onto his grandchildren, the best I could, and when I see them emulate his behavior, his beliefs, and act as he would act my eyes sting with a bit of emotion feeling that though he is gone, he is so not forgotten and his lessons and love are clearly living on. 

Live as if you are imprinting lessons you want to live on, because long after you pass the life you lived, not just the words you shared, resonates on. 

Let those lessons be great and fantastic ripples that reach others that you will never meet. 

Inspire those to make a difference.  Don’t leave it to someone else to do.

Be the one.


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One Comment
  1. Thank you. I needed to read this today.

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