If I had to pick just two qualities I would like to inherit from my dad they would be:
generosity & optimism
Since I was very young I have memories of my dad giving money to people in trouble. Whether they were on the side of a road, in front of a restaurant, a relative down on their luck or a friend in need---he was often there---willing without ever verbalizing judgement. He still quietly arranges for my mom to "do good deeds" around their neighborhood, where many are in need. He is the mastermind in the service, but sends it out through her or others---not wanting any recognition or accolades. By some people's standards, my father is not wealthy...yet in my eyes, he has the largest treasures in the world; to be loved, respected with a heart turned toward others.
My dad has also had a passion for learning. His learning has not been in a traditional academic setting---but his knowledge far surpasses many college graduates I know. He has a curious mind that is filled with optimism---always believing in the human spirit.
One of my favorite stories that my dad has written in his life history...describes this spirit about him at a very early age---
I think he was 7 years old living in Gilmer, TX. He was being raised by a single mother in the Great Depression. Times were very hard for them and money was scarce.
He writes, "I spent most of my time just roaming the street and hustling odd jobs. I know I drove a lot of the business owners crazy because I was always asking if I could do an odd job. The problem was I was too young to have much skill at anything, although I had plenty of enthusiasm."
"There was a banker by the name of Green who always wore a white ice cream colored suit and I knew he had plenty of money. I made a plan to approach Mr. Green and see if I could do some work for him and make a little money."
"One day I waited for him to leave the bank and I approached him and asked, 'Mr. Green, do you have any work that I could do to make a nickel or a dime?' You can imagine what I looked like...ragged clothes and no shoes. Mr. Green replied, 'I don't have any work for you just now.' My heart sank because I had been planning this and I knew he could afford to give me some work. ...As I was walking away I said, 'Thank you anyway Mr. Green.' He said, 'Wait a minute son, I'll probably have some work for you later on, and I might as well pay you for it now.' With that he reached in his pocket and pulled out a dime. I thanked him and told him I would check to see when he wanted the work done. He told me to see him the following week. That dime was a lot of money for a seven year old back then. I could go to the general store and get a piece of cheese and some crackers out of the barrel for three cents, and a piece of candy just cost a penny."
He continued, "From that point forward, I would go see Mr. Green and perform some chores like cleaning out the spittoons in the bank or sweeping up. He always gave me a dime and sometimes I would give it to Mama or else spend it on something to eat."
Thank you Dad for all that you teach me. You have followed Mr. Green's example throughout your life. The initiative and optimism you held as a seven year old have served you well. I have learned at your side how to treat others, look for those in need, stand up for what I believe in...and believe in myself. I love you. Happy Father's Day!