This is my Daddy giving me my diploma at my high school graduation. He was president of the school board at that time and it just worked out so he could do that. And, yes, I know my hair is bad and that the white sandals are very bad, especially with the tan pantyhose.
So here are some more things my Daddy taught me:
- “A mean-spirited person is his/her own punishment.” Daddy would always say in response to mean, hurtful behavior, whether directed toward us or others. I’m not sure it was great comfort at the time, but it has proven true. I’ve seen many miserable, hateful people in my life, and none of them are happy. Anyone who purposely inflicts pain on others is more miserable than they are making you. Don’t waste time and energy on revenge; it is unnecessary and really isn’t as much fun as it seems anyway.
- God really is merciful. Daddy’s faith was the strongest, most powerful, simple, pure and most authentic of anyone I’ve ever known. He touched many people and impacted many lives for Christ. But the one thing Daddy knew that he could never bear was the loss of a child. He always said that if he ever lost a child, he would go crazy. God spared him that. Two of his children have been diagnosed with cancer, one suffered multiple miscarriages and one buried his wife of five years at the age of 30. Although I believe that Daddy’s faith would have seen him through any of these trials, he was spared and I’m grateful for that.
- Love deeply, fully, unconditionally. His love never depended upon my accomplishments, outward appearance or anything but the fact that I was his child. He told me truth that I didn’t want to hear and when he hugged me he was never the first to let go. When I hug my kids, I never let go first.
- Give. This might seem obvious, but it amazes me that so many people don’t get it. Stuff is not as important as people. He gave sacrificially and he gave with joy. He was generous wihout being indulgent. When I was pregnant with Elizabeth, just before she was born, we had an unexpected car repair. The charge was $1800, which may as well have been $180,000 at that time in our lives. Jim’s first call was to my dad. I know he must have been scared, he must have rehearsed how he was going to ask his father-in-law for $1800, but there was no need. Daddy sensed what he was trying to say and just asked, “How much do you need?” He sent the check that very day. He never asked when, how or if we would pay him back. We did, but we knew we didn’t have to. He knew our situation and our struggles without being told and he cared more about us than he did the money. After he died, we found several of the checks that he had never even cashed. I think I still have them somewhere, as a reminder that people really are more important than stuff.