How is it, that we do not appreciate what we have until it’s gone…
My dad passed away several years ago. Growing up in a large family, he was the “glue” in our family. He spent his career in banking management as he had an aptitude for numbers and finance. As a young girl I used to joke that I was “growing up with management!” Our dad approached every situation at home the way he would at work. He was the CEO and our mom was the next in command. Anyone who knew my dad will understand how he operated, the military precision he brought to most situations!
While in the service during the 1940’s he was 2nd in command at a PX overseas with sales volume over one million dollars! He learned about retail business as this PX had a main store, bowling alley, snack bar, tailor shops, beauty shops, barber shops, garage, golf courses, movie theatre. I believe this is where his management style was born.
I have seven siblings, six of us are close in age. One of his strategies was Team Building. This life strategy was applied to our chores that were divided up so that we were a team/ buddy system. We rotated our chores, one night was dishes the next was school lunches for the crew and the third night our “team” was off. The fourth night, the cycle would start all over.
Dad could be motivational, one of his strategies was competition. With eight children, there was always an opportunity to create a competitive situation as a motivator. So maybe the team that did the dishes Monday night did the best job all week. There was no reward for a job well done, the reward was taking pride in a job well done. He helped us realize that competition is a part of life.
With this large family, eating out was not an option! So periodically Dad would surprise the family and go to Browns Chicken on Friday night and get the Fried Shrimp. He would get a few orders and we would “share” that shrimp between all of us. It was the best treat in the whole world. Or Saturday mornings, he would go over to the local bakery and pick up sweet rolls and fresh baked bread rolls for breakfast. The thing is he could be strict when needed. He was also compassionate and caring. My dad had the ability to make the best banana split or any kind of sundae! He also had a way of taking a large Hershey Bar and making that somehow work for eight kids and we all felt like we got this amazing treat!
When I was younger, my dad would tell me what to do. As I got older, he continued to try to direct me but as a young adult, I was not always listening. One simple phrase dad said to me “You only have yourself.” That’s all he’d say, period! As a 20 year old with seven siblings, two parents, many extended family members, I did not understand the impact of that statement.
When I left home and got married, started a family, I would talk to my dad. This is how it would go; I would stop by to get some advice. I would talk with him. Tell him what was going on. I would eventually say, “I’m not sure if I should do this, or if I should do the other thing.” He would respond, “What do you think?” I would sit with him while I figured it out, without my dad having to say too much. I would thank him for helping me, figure out my situation, when in reality he sat there and nodded his head while I weighed my pros and cons. I had become an adult, making my own decisions. With his vision for his children, gained through military service and his own life experiences, dad taught us life strategies that I draw from often.
As I get older, the years are passing with many life experiences along the way…I have my own family, a large support system, many people that love me, however, what I make of my life, is up to me. I am responsible for my own happiness and success. If I have problems whether at work, or at home even with friends, no one can show up and take care of it for me. It’s up to me to set my own goals, to get up, to show up and bring my “A” game everyday! These lessons I learned growing up have become invaluable with my own children, life has its peaks and valleys all of it rich with experiences if one opens their heart and mind to the possibilities that can be learned from struggles as well as triumphs. It is the struggles that make the triumphs so worth celebrating!