My Dad was an unusual man. He had many interests and would plunge into projects and hobbies full force, sometimes to the dismay of my ever tolerant mother. He built a greenhouse out of lumber and plexiglass in our backyard, and he set up a firing range for pistols in our basement. He was not your typical medical doctor next door in the suburbs. He was made of slightly different stuff. He was well educated and quirky and truly one of a kind.
My dad had so many sayings it would be impossible to compile them all here, but I want to share a few of them in honor of Father’s Day. Some of these make me laugh, others make me cringe, but they all passed my father’s lips many many times.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
I like that one. I didn’t really get it at first, but he patiently explained to me that just wishing for something won’t make it so. Anyone can wish, but you have to act on those wishes in order for them to come true. Oh… you mean, like, work? Yep. Work.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Ok, so this one isn’t his. Apparently Lao Tzu said it about a billion years ago, but it stuck with my dad and now it sticks with me. It’s much like the one about eating an elephant, but Dad never said that one. He would be opposed to eating elephants. Anyway, this saying is another one about working toward your goals. No matter how big our dreams are, we will only reach them if we begin to follow the path that leads to them. Suck it up, take chances, and go for it. That last part is mine, not Dad’s.
Give time time.
Huh? In the later years of his life, my dad became very ill, primarily with Parkinson’s but he had other health issues as well. This became his go to quote during his declining years. I guess it means slow down. He had to slow down (he was never speedy to begin with), so maybe this quote was to remind himself that it’s ok not to rush. It’s ok to take the time you need to accomplish what you’re attempting. I’m still not sure about this one. Maybe with time I’ll understand it better.
Buy only what you need.
And we have just entered the land of irony. If “need” means 23 miniature brass cannons, 74 glass paperweights, and 6 garden hoses, then he nailed it. This man who preached a frugal lifestyle had a penchant for collecting things. As I mentioned earlier, he had varied interests, so he had varied collections to match. He was a regular in the gift shops of the art and science museums, and after his retirement he became a darling of the local estate sale agents. They would even put items aside for him. An entire bookcase full of antique family Bibles is one result of that particular obsession.
Bibles weren’t the only books he was passionate about. He had a huge library and he read every word of every book that he brought home. He would sit up in bed and underline passages and make notations in the margins and add in newspaper articles about the author or the topic. Each of his books on art, history, religion, philosophy, botany, nature, and politics received similar treatment. He loved the Time Life books, subscribing to several series including one on the Old West and another on Anthropology. At dinner he would share his learning with us, and challenge us with “penny questions” both about his topic, and about current events. My brother and I wanted those pennies! They were like gold coming from my dad.
My dad was one of a kind, and he taught me many lessons, both formally and through his example. He could be charming or irritating, suave or abrupt, cuddly or prickly. He was complex, multi-faceted, and exceptionally intelligent. He was a lot of things, but above all, he was my Dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I miss you.