Today is my dad’s birthday. I want to be like my dad.
One of the many gifts my dad has given me is the love of history. He has always told me it’s important to learn from history in order to understand more of where we are at and who we are in the present. The era dad was born in is in some ways reminiscent of what is occurring in our world today.
There’s definitely similarity between then and now. Why didn’t we learn from what occurred in the past? It’s worth thinking about.
Dad has always felt we should be knowledgable about current events in order to be a part of the solutions this world needs.
The time of life is captured in one of my favorite movies, It’s A Wonderful Life (Check out the clips of the Run on the Bank and Desperation ). The movie reminds me what dad has always reminded our family: How we choose to see life is our choice . . . and if, we see it with God . . . then, we will see life is wonderful.
The thing is . . Dad has taught me that regardless of what’s happening . . . I have the choice to respond with honor and integrity, to make a difference in the lives of people, to be a positive change, and to never give up, strategizing how to forge ahead with wisdom and grace.
And. Dad has taught me that nothing is too hard or impossible for those who live their life through Christ. He has told us and shown us that we are to do everything passionately for God. A plaque of Colossians 3: 23-24 sits over his desk, underlining his motto of life:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ ( ESV).
The value of “doing” rather than letting life happen to you has been a major theme when it comes to dad’s talks with me. I learned there is value in working hard with a great attitude, regardless of the job. I picked crops, babysat children, shared a paper route with my brother, cleaned my dad’s office building, and worked at a retirement home when I was growing up. Dad never commiserated with me when I came home complaining, tired and overdone by it all, ready and wanting to quit.
He would look at me intently with his hazel eyes . . . and tell me never to quit when the going was hard . . . to change the situation by my attitude and to keep a good work ethic . . . and to wait to leave on good terms, only after everything had been done to make the best of the situation.
Of course, my initial response to his advice was not the greatest; it made me mad that dad did not understand. But. Throughout the course of my lifetime, I’ve learned that it’s not the job that matters as much as it’s my attitude and how I work.
Working for others as a volunteer is part of the work ethic dad has instilled in our family. He has encouraged and set up opportunities for each of us to serve others. In fact, the Salvation Army presented him with the “Others Award,” recognizing his extreme efforts as a “civilian” to serve others. I still remember dad being so surprised and humbled when he was given the award with a standing ovation from our community. Dad continues to organize our family to ring the bell for Salvation Army every Christmas; it’s an important part of how we celebrate the season. We’ve learned that serving others is of prime importance.
Dad has always been notorious for his short and simple messages. I received a letter from him in college with my tax return, which I memorized and still remember:
Sign it, seal it, send it~Love, Dad.
I understood what I was to do. So. I did it. Dad never has made anything complicated but has always expected us to step up and do our part. It reminds me of what he said right before we went down the aisle at my wedding:
You will set the tone. If, you are happy this will be a celebration. You are directing this night. Celebrate.
I knew he actually was saying, “Don’t cry because it will make me cry.” But.
As always, his simple message held a life lesson: My attitude does make a difference.
His advice did not change when I became mother of the bride. I’ve always adhered to his advice. I’ve learned he is always right.
Of course, there have been some epic conflicts, including the “car.” I had my first nursing job straight out of college and turned in the blue Mazda family car to my brother Kelly. Dad and I went car shopping. I found just the right car ~a brand new red convertible super beetle. It was and is my dream car.
He told the dealer we needed to think about it. “We?” My money, my decision. But. Apparently “we” had to think about. So. The car was gone when we came back to make the offer. The cost to order another super beetle was out of my budget. I was mad at him for a long time about the process. But. He wanted to teach me how to be wise and not purchase something just because I wanted it I bought a reliable little “gray Dodge Colt” and drove it for twelve years.
Dad taught the rest of my siblings and our kids how to drive, giving them tips on life along the way. It’s ridiculous how many car stories we all have with dad. My sister, Shelley, tells the story of riding in the back seat, while dad was trying to teach me to shift the old yellow Toyota at Grandpa and Grandma Jones’ farm. I ended up in a field of weeds, stalling the car. The ride home was a series of how-to-drive lectures. Shelley, then four, got out of the car when we got home and gave it to him: “You don’t drive all that well yourself!”
The old yellow datsun was finally destroyed by my brother, Kevin, when he wanted to see what would happen when a car was driven at high speed on the top of gravel pit. It was not drivable, which meant I was without a car to use between work and school. I ended up with dad’s Mazda and Kevin went back to riding his bike.
Tricia still talks about the time dad “made” her drive over the Oregon mountain roads from Salem to SunRiver to build her confidence. Apparently, she did not want to disappoint grandpa; however, Tricia was scared to death the whole way. The result? She became a confident and safe driver. And, while I won’t go into all the details now, Tiffany talks about the hour of silence with dad when he came to rescue her after she sped around a corner and ended up in a muddy ravine on a dark, cold rainy day. She learned more in his silence than anything he could ever had said. It was difficult for her to think he might be disappointed. And. Talk about difficult, a few weeks after my nephew, Geoff, received his permit, dad had him driving on the freeway. It put a healthy fear of driving into his teenager’s heart and mind as he white-knuckled the drive on I5.
The thing is . . . whether it’s driving, attending sports, concerts, or just hanging out . . . dad has given all the grandkids an extraordinary amount of time and attention, always making each one feel special. I know he has given up a lot of other things he could’ve done to be present in all of our lives.
Perhaps the best way to describe my dad is telling about what happened when his office burnt to the ground in 1999. It happened on a Sunday when mom and dad were enroute to coming home from their vacation together. A man hired to repair the office roof decided to save money by tarring it by himself. He dropped his propane torch through the roof causing a five-alarm fire. When I called dad while watching his business burn, I tried to explain the seriousness of it all. Dad remained completely calm as I told him and responded, “We’ll come as soon as we finish lunch.”
“Really? You’re going to finish lunch?”
I called my brother Kelly, who went to the restaurant to explain the urgency. Apparently dad and mom understood the office was in flames, but also knew there was nothing to do but to be calm, trust God, and finish lunch. After all, the lunch was part of the planned ending of their vacation.
Still. Are you kidding me?
Dad was incredibly calm when he arrived at the scene as the firefighters worked to put the fire out and again when he walked through the remains and picked up his melted coffee mug off his melted desk, which had become one with the floor. They were able to salvage some records; however, much of his life’s work was destroyed. My dad worked with his firm, helped to find a new place, and spent an incredible amount of hours to restore his business.
And, everyone saw what I’ve always seen: My dad is a man with honor and integrity with an attitude like Christ.
Dad continues to love all the new members of our family . . . showing us an incredible example of what it means to live . . . always at work with the attitude of Christ.
I want to be like my dad.
Happy Birthday! I love you dad!
More later . . . Kerrie
Also see: http://kickstartyourdaywithgod.com/
(written by Kerrie Carlisle Palmer © 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)