For some unknown reason, I’m thinking of my dad today. Maybe it’s because I’m spending the weekend at my ‘happy place.’ Whenever my husband and I can get away from our weekday norm, we high-tail it to our mountain retreat. It is here that I allow myself to bask in the moment.
We recently got a puppy and a kitten. Life as we knew it is now no more, but that’s a good thing. These two youngsters delight us in every way possible. Our four-year-old cat, Woody, doesn’t share our enthusiasm. Although Woody seems to be smitten with the new feline baby, the canine baby creates a bit of anxiety. Woody keeps a safe distance from Riley (pup) and observes her antics from his throne on high. At night, when Riley’s stamina fizzles out, and she succumbs to the Sandman, Toby (kitten) and Woody crank up the action and the games begin!
Daddy loved animals, all animals. Although we always had dogs growing up, Daddy spent a small fortune feeding the birds and squirrels that occupied our backyard. They’re God’s gift to us, he would say, and he expects us to take care of them. After Daddy passed away, and Mom and I cleaned out the basement, the birds and squirrels continued to eat well for a long, long time. I am a carbon copy of my mother, which I am proud of, but it’s my dad’s tender heart and his love for God’s gift of animals that I am thankful for and that I appreciate.
Daddy wasn’t an educated man, but he was a man who knew how to make the most out of God’s blessings. Daddy served in the Navy during WWII. He never talked about his time in service. I suppose he witnessed things that were too painful to remember, let alone share. Daddy carried a humble spirit, and he taught life lessons by spouting one-liners. His most memorable one-liner compared tight-fitting shoes to misfortune: “The tight-fitting shoe doesn’t hurt until it’s on your foot,” he reminded us. Through my adult years, Daddy’s insight speaks the truth, more often than not.
Daddy also taught me to be thankful for the blessing of good health. He shared that anything and everything can be acquired as long as your health is up to the challenge. Daddy provided for his family via the West Virginia coal mines. Forty-plus years, to be exact. I never remember a time when he laid out of work. Even when his health wasn’t up-to-par, he forged forward. “I’ve got a family to support,” he said. Then, added: “Don’t worry about the mule being poorly, just load the wagon.” When I first started my barbering career, I worked long hours. I needed to establish not only my name but also my talent. My livelihood depended on me making it in the barber business. Funny as it sounds, but Daddy contradicted what he taught. He said, “You’re working way too long, you better pace yourself or you’ll burn out and make yourself sick.” I looked at my dad and used one of his one-liners: “Daddy,” I said, “You always told me to make hay while the sun is shining. Well,” I reminded him, “I’m making hay.” Daddy understood, and he never questioned my work ethic again.
I look back over my life, at my career, and I feel my dad looking down on me. Proud, I hope he is, of the woman I am, the life I choose to live, and the love of animals that I inherited from him. I am thankful for my dad’s one-liners, they are serving me well.
And, above all else, let me say that I am seizing the day!
I learned my life lessons from a loving and devoted earthly father. There’s a saying: “Life is tough, but love is stronger.” Indeed it is, and with the love and guidance of my earthly father and you, God, every day is worth seizing.