I wrote a speech last week and planned to read it at my dad’s memorial service today. I just couldn’t do it. The second I walked in the room and saw the framed photos I knew I was going to barely be able to keep it together, let alone speak out loud.
So here is what I would have read if I could have:
Looking back on the time that I spent with my father, I have collected a few life lessons that are beneficial to everyone. I would like to share a few of those with you today.
1. Learn everyone’s name and call them by it. Everyone. Your co-workers, the store clerks, everyone. While as a kid, having my dad say “Hi George” “How’s it going, Frank,” as we walked through Value City was mortifying, it taught me that everyone has value. It is easy to be caught up in our own world and how things affect us, but everyone else is dealing with stuff too. Who knows whose day you will make by asking about their kid’s concert or noticing their hard work.
2. Store prices are just a suggestion. This is especially true of car shopping, but he managed to always find a great deal wherever he went. You don’t put four kids through Michigan without being thrifty and he was a master at it.
3. You are never to old to change. Many people think that by the time they reach a certain age, they are set in their ways and will always be the same. Not true. In the last decade of his life, my father became an avid reader, voted for people I never would have imagined he would have, and dedicated himself to being the most devoted grandfather possible,
4. Spend time on things you are passionate about. For daddy, it was cars. Talking about them, driving them, learning about them. It was fitting in the days after my dad’s death that my husband and I were car shopping, as a result of a car-totaling accident the week prior. I thought of my dad throughout the whole process, wishing I could talk to him about it and make sure we were getting a good deal.
5. Be adaptable. Life moves fast and so much changed during his lifetime. While it admittedly took him awhile to come around to the idea of using an ATM, he always embraced changing technology, whether it was his first black and white TV in the 50s, our family’s first computer in the 80s, the new-fangled VCR, the CD player, or his wall of television in the 90s.
With the exception of the car shopping lessons, all of the things I have been talking about today were not told to me by my dad. I learned them by watching him. Which I suppose is his greatest lesson of all: teach by example and others will follow.