Things Dad Taught Me

I’m SO not in the field my Dad was in.  Unless you view making videos as transporting ideas and images to people, video production and transportation management–we’re talking the Sun to Pluto, THAT far apart.  He told me once that if there was ANY kind of future in transportation, he’d teach me.  Yeah, that didn’t happen. 

He didn’t beat me over the head with “You can do it!”  Tony Little he wasn’t.  What he’d say is, “YOU know you can do it.”  And when I couldn’t, there was the ubiquitous, “Next time.”  If it was shooting layups or changing oil or dropping hams or pizzas on the floor and then still serving it to people, it was, “This is how it’s done.”  (Actually, I was only a couple hours old for the ham, but the pizza–we both grabbed the boxes, we both let go, watched them fall in I SWEAR slow motion, then the ever-popular “Don’t tell your mother!”  And my mom’s father–“Good ham, Wally!”  I guess he got all the dog hair off it.)  I’m a right-brainer, so math’s not REALLY something I enjoy.  I’m not BAD at it, but I always convinced myself that I was.  Math homework was one of the few things he really pushed me on.  When I let myself get bad grades–and it was ALL me, really–Mom did the Stern Lecture bit, Dad was always, “You’ll do better.  We both know you can do better.”  He showed me how to believe in myself–but also not to believe TOO much.  No matter how good you are, there’s bound to be someone that’s better, so don’t beat yourself up too much.

I got my wit from both my parents, really.  I’ve already told the Heavier Pumpkin story. 

The guy broke his leg once.  Slipped on the ice in front of the house.  Compound, too.  But after a couple aspirin, he was hobble-hopping to the door to drive to work.  In Bayonne.  Two and a half hour ride.  If A)Mom hadn’t banged him over the head, and B) the throbbing leg hadn’t made him fall down, he’d have driven it.  It needed to be done, so he was going to do it. 

Everybody knows about my accident, what happened to me.  Dad, though, shattered his arm and his ribs broke, lungs punctured.  Finally made him quit smoking.  The doctors I had told Mom I was coming home, then called 23 seconds later and said I wasn’t.  When he asked why, the doctor told him it was because Mom was 5’1″,  and she couldn’t handle two 6 foot invalids.  Next day, his sister drove him down to Philly, he wheeled my chair out of the hospital, then when she drove around the corner to pick us up, he fell down in the passenger seat.  I was coming home, no matter what. 

He was the first one to convince me to submit my writing somewhere.  He also taught me that work, hard work, is the way to get places.  Sure, the submission got me nowhere, but still, it was important to me. 

He taught me the Proper Way To Deal With A New Bad Situation–a very elongated curse about solid waste.

After Mom died, and after he lost the use of his legs, that’s when he taught me what he’d been trying to all along.  Someone ALWAYS has it worse than you, so don’t complain too much, and that’s the way it goes.  One time, back in the ’50’s, he and my uncle bought a car.  The way Uncle Bill tells it, the thing ate more oil than gas.  Dad was going out with a girl in Allentown, and she was hungry.  Dad had enough to either feed the CAR or the GIRL.   Fed the girl, car died, he sold it on the spot for scrap.  That’s the way it goes. 

That’s the way it goes.


~ by Sean on November 4, 2008.

One Response to “Things Dad Taught Me”

  1. And someday, years from now, Brian will look back fondly on this day when he remembers what I taught him today–

    “Know what WE’RE gonna do about it?”

    And someday I’ll get my wife to watch that movie.

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