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So, this last weekend, we were able to spend some time with my dad. Spending time with him always makes me laugh and see a side of life I had never before considered.
Today, I’d like to honor my dad, George, and share with you some of the profound, funny and prosaic stuff he has shared me over the years.
Don’t mess with crazy. One of the first pieces of advice I can ever remember him giving me was “Don’t mess with crazy.” He usually said this upon leaving church and what he meant, I may never know…did he mean, “Don’t get near people from church?” Don’t get “messy with people who may be crazy?” Don’t visit mental health institutions on a Monday? Your guess is as good as mine. Recently, I asked him what this meant…he said, “I don’t know, but it sounds like good advice to me.“ Simple prose, but sound advice. In any case, Don’t mess with crazy.
The Un-Arborist. Growing up, my dad was the guy in the neighborhood who pulled other people’s weeds, organized the Neighborhood Watch, and got all the neighbors to pool in together to have the alley paved and keep our neighborhood (as well as our alley) looking neat and clean.
As a child, I remember my dad endlessly planting and then pulling up trees. We had no less that 19 trees planted and subsequently pulled up from our backyard over a 10 year period. He would plant one, live with it a few years, then pull it up if it did not live up to his arboreal expectations. To this day, in friendly conversation, I refer to him as the “Un-Arborist” or, he who repeatedly plants and unearths foliage.
Leave a generous tip, but make sure no one steals it off the table. George is one of those remarkable people who was always able to put a bit a away ’for a rainy day’. Consequently, he is very particular where his hard earned cash goes. But in spite of his thrifty eye, he is unfailingly generous to those in the service industry. After eating out, he would leave a generous tip on the table, then make sure no one passing by would steal it on their way out. More often than not, he would simply hand the server their tip so we wouldn’t have to wait around for them to pick it up from the table.
As an adult, I find his generous heart endearingly kind, while simultaneously appreciating the vigilant nature concerning the welfare of his hard earned money.
Paparazzi. Long before Lady Gaga even considered meat as couture, George had introduced us, his children, to all of the negative connotations of the word ‘paparazzi’. Meaning, we were the most photographed children in existence. But 99% of the photos were usually
A) out of focus
B) taken so far away that you could never tell who the picture was supposed to be of, or
C) filled with unhappy grimaces of teenage children wishing they weren’t raised quite so politely as to impede us from kicking our resident paparazzi and running for our lives.
At one point, we even named his camera. We considered it the 6th member of our family.
As an parent, I appreciate his intent--he was simply trying to capture the moments of our fleeting childhoods. However, I am hopelessly scarred. I am one of the few people I know who actually runs at the sight of a camera, or poses with the same lame open mouthed smile that looks all “hey, I’m happy to be here!” but I’m really thinking, “MAKE IT STOP…MAKE IT STOP NOW.”
In any case, we are well documented. If you were to empty all the pictures from the album and thumbed through them like one of those cartoon flip books, you could see the wonder of our childhoods unfold before your very eyes.
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My dad is an extraordinary man. He is bold and assertive and he’s one of those people who has never met a stranger. He is a fierce friend. Life with him is never boring. He is one of the hardest working people I know. One of the greatest gifts he instilled in me is that work ethic and the ability to speak with boldness. As I get older, I find myself thinking that his random wisdom isn’t so far off. Just the other day, I was looking at a tree we had recently planted.
“Hmmmm,” I thought, “Let’s give it a few more years.”
What sound wisdom did your parents give you?
What funny moments do you treasure from your childhood?
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comments here! Please join us in celebrating the simple moments of everyday life!!