Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Things My Dad Taught Me (Without Saying A Word)

  1. Working hard for your family is honorable. My dad leased a Gulf gas station/service station for decades. He worked ten-hour days, six days a week for many years. Then tended to “book work” when he was home. He didn’t harbor any great any ambitions or wallow in his lot in life (although he always wanted to be a trolley conductor). It is simply what he did to provide for his wife and children.

    Perpetua Anniversary

    Mom and Dad celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2004.

  2. Volunteer. Give your time freely in service to others. I never realized the extent to which my dad’s life was marked by service until the priest spoke about it at his funeral Mass. From his Navy service during World War II to being a parish usher, bingo volunteer, a lifelong member of the Rennerdale Volunteer Fire Department, and helping out at one of his favorite places – the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum – my dad happily served.
  3. It’s okay to be quiet. I inherited my introversion from my father. He saw no need to fill every moment with noise or conversation. It was enough to simply be and to listen.
  4. Fill the tank when you have a chance. Don’t wait for the next exit. I recall multiple incidents in which my dad, with a near-empty tank of gas, attempted to “make it to the next exit.” I don’t know if it was some kind of thrill to ‘beat the tank,’ but more than once my mom and I waited alongside the road while he hitched or walked for gasoline. (And remember, my dad had a gas station.) Since I got my driver’s license twenty-seven years ago, I’ve yet to run out of gas.
  5. Nothing beats a singing cowboy. My dad filled countless Saturday afternoons watching old movies featuring his favorite singing cowboys: Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. It took decades, but I think I’ve finally come around. Give me a nice, clean romance featuring a cowboy and some Dierks Bentley country or bluegrass, and I’m good to go.
  6. Be responsible with money. Live within your means, pay  your bills, repay your debts, and donate. My dad tracked the monthly cash spending on a yellow legal tablet and rarely used credit.My father didn't tell me how to live.
  7. Give your children opportunities then let them follow their own dreams. Dad never tried to influence my interests but he ensured I could pursue them by funding activities and education. When I moved away from home for the first time for a job, he never tried to talk me out of it even though he cried on the return trip from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh.
  8. Holidays are for family. Dad loved holidays, especially Christmas, and enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren around him. I can picture him sitting in his chair sipping a fuzzy navel on Christmas Eve as the chaos ensued around him then donning his suit to usher at Midnight Mass.
  9. Small acts of kindness are remembered. Even beyond my dad’s death, each Christmas meant a delivery of cookies from a retired local doctor. In fact, the cookie plate continued to arrive after his death, too. In the 1970s, when gas was rationed, my dad allowed the doctor to fill his tank so he could make his visits. The doctor never forgot that small act of kindness on my dad’s part.
  10. Never give up. The day before my dad died, I was able to spend time with him. During my visit, one of the priests from his parish stopped by. My dad told him how he hoped to be back at 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass soon. He had gone to confession and was spiritually ready for death, yet he didn’t give up hope.

What good things did your Dad teach you by his actions?

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