My father was a distinguished, generous and sensible man with a warm, discerning heart, and a quiet sense of humor. He was also very practical. My father and my mother had different lessons for me, all of them valuable. While my mother told me I could do anything I set my mind to, my father wanted me to have something to fall back on.
My mother encouraged me to love and forgive and to always be a lady. Here are the things my father added to that list:
1) Speak well; no slang. It doesn’t matter how nice you look, when you open your mouth, you’ll tell the whole story.
2) When you shake hands, take hold. It doesn’t matter that you’re a girl; nobody likes that little wimpy hand with no life in it.
3) When it comes to boys, don’t be a tease. It will not speak well of your character.
4) When it comes to work, shape up. Earn the money they pay you and make the most of the opportunities you’ve been given.
5) Don’t brag.
6) Don’t cheat or lie. It will always come back on you.
7) Don’t think you’re better than anyone else. There’s a lot you don’t know.
8) Keep your promises.
9) On a cold winter day, go ahead and give that homeless guy on the street your gloves. But don’t look back. He’ll probably trade them for a couple of cigarettes, and you wouldn’t want to be discouraged from giving something the next time.
10) Whatever else you do, guard your reputation because one day you’ll turn around and find yourself face-to-face with your past.
My father’s been gone a long time, but I’ve never forgotten him or his lessons. I remember him each and every day with love and gratitude.