This week would have been both my mom and my dad’s birthdays. My mom passed in 2003 from pancreatic cancer. My dad passed in 2013. He was 91. Never smoked really but the emphysema he got from grain dust in the grain bins as a farmer affected his lung capacity.
I am reflecting today on the things I learned from my parents.
I started my private investigation and process serving business in 1994 to supplement my income. I have been doing it either full or part time ever since. Prior to starting the business part time, I was working for the postal service. The overnight hours just basically sucked, but I needed a sabbatical from a desk job that I had previously.
Nine years after working for the postal service while raising my sons full time with no child support, I took a daring moved in 2002 and went full time with my PI business. I wanted to be awake and alert all the time for my kids and the money no longer seemed as important as being the best father I could be.
When my parents found out I left the postal job, they both broke down in tears because everyone perceives it to be a good job. My dad had farmed since he was 13 years old and he knew how hard it was to be self employed. But I also knew that being the best parent I could be was more important than being emotionally attached to a house and working six nights a week and most holidays.
What do I realize now that I learned from my parents?
Being self employed is difficult, not having a predictable paycheck but family is most important. As long as there is food on the table and a roof over our heads (I know, it sounds cliche), and we spend time together, that is the most important.
My mom taught me to be nurturing. She was more demonstrative. Even today, when I see my three children, before we leave each other, I hug them and tell them that I love them. They tell me they love me too. They have no idea how happy it is to hear those words.
My dad taught me to work hard. Unless you work for yourself, you have no idea how hard you’re going to have to work when you are self-employed. Much like my dad working as late as the sun was up plowing fields, discing, baling hay, harvesting crops and more, There are many days where I may leave home at 7am and not return until 10 pm. I smile because my dad never really understood what I do for a living, but he gave me the gift of hard work. It is funny because he always thought I was lazy growing up on the farm. I just did not like farm work. Now, I realize how lucky I had it living on a 240-acre farm with a fishing pond and a creek running through our property. I started showing how I could work hard in college as one semester I took a full class load, worked at the campus NPR affiliate, working weeknights doing voiceover worked at a PBS television station, and worked weekends deejaying top 40 music at the local AM station.
Both my parents taught me the importance of family. Growing up we were not rich, but I never felt we were poor. I had clothes to wear, never went hungry, and I felt cared for.
My parents always made sure I was in Sunday School every Sunday and I knew that if I did not behave in church, there were plenty of trees offering switches for my backside. And both of my parents led by example. Both taught Sunday School and dad was a deacon and trustee in the church. He never felt comfortable being a public speaker. You see he had to quit school at age 13 to run the family farm because his dad was blind. That being said, when the church needed his support, he never said no.
My dad was a man of integrity and my mom was a kind lady with a good heart. My dad always took pride in the fact that he could work with people that others could not get along with. He told me your reputation is like a house. It takes a while to build, but it can be torn down overnight.
When I was in the hospital around 8 years old getting my tonsils removed, my mom slept in the chair next to my bed. When I was about 5 years old and I got in the creek water over my head, my dad jumped in with his overalls on and rescued me. Now, as a parent, I know the meaning of sacrifice and I would give my life, without hesitation, for any one of my three children. I know that unconditional love.
Happy birthday mom and dad. Enjoy this day at the feet of God as you are hand in hand together. I know Dad you are no longer lonely for Mom.
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