Saturday, June 23, 2012


LIFE IS GOOD!  Believe that with your whole heart.  Be good!  Life is better if you are a positive participant, adding to it not taking away from it.  Being good doesn't just mean obeying your parents and teachers or the law or even the ten commandments.  It means helping when you can help, giving when you can give, sharing when you can share, loving when you can love.  Do these things and I guarantee you will enjoy your life. 
 I wrote the  preceding paragraph in my first blog entry and then quickly went on to get some of my other thoughts down before they could get away.  “Life is good” is worth spending a lot more time on.
 Too many people I have known seem to live their life with the premise that, “life would be good if only….”  The surest way to be unhappy is to be convinced you could be happy if you just had more.  This brings me to something I sometimes use in recovery meetings, I title it “The Richest Man I know.”
 My dad, your great-grandfather, worked as a tenant farmer for much of his adult life.  This is not a job which brings in a lot of money;  I believe at one time his salary was one hundred dollars a month.  When he was in his mid-fifties, he quit farming and took over managing a gas station, a job he kept doing until he was at least seventy years old.  He and my mother had purchased a small house in town when he left farming and they lived there the rest of their lives.  His car (they had only one) was a modest sedan; they didn’t own a boat or a camper or a vacation home.  When they traveled it was to visit family;  they didn’t take cruises or “see the world.”  He watched sports on tv and fixed bikes for the neighborhood children.  He liked visiting with the neighbors and talking to his siblings and his sons on the phone.  This is just about the sum total of the things in his life, but he was the richest man I know.  I give him that title, because I have never met anyone who was more content with what he had.  A bigger better house or fancier car would have been wasted on him.  The best meal he ever ate was Mother’s cooking.  His life was complete; he had everything he wanted.  It is impossible to be richer than that.   I am now close to bestowing that title on myself.  There is little I want in this life that I do not have.  I love the home I have.  It is filled with family pictures and dogs and movies and books and I wake up in it every morning loving, and being loved by, your grandmother.  I don’t know what more I could ask for.  I hope that you can also be “the richest man in the world.”  It’s a great thing to be.


Sunday, June 17, 2012


     In a previous attempt to get me to record something of my life, your dad asked me to write about something that made me feel proud.  As I was thinking about Fathers' Day, it occurred to me that one of the things I am most proud of is that my sons look to me for advice and assistance when they have a problem or something needs fixed.  Usually, this is just something like building shelves or a plumbing problem or trouble with a car, but it's the idea that it is me that they turn to that makes me proud.
      Many of the skills that I employ when they call I learned from my dad.  Farming did not provide the sort of income that allows you to call a professional every time something needs built or repaired, so whether it was carpentry or plumbing, rebuilding an engine or welding a broken implement, Dad just did it.  He seemed (at least to me) to have been born with a wrench in his hand.  One place where he excelled as a dad was that he insisted that my brother and I work alongside him.  This of course is traditional on a family farm, but the basic training in tool use that he made sure we received has served me ever since.
      When Dad died, I told the minister preparing the eulogy that Dad's legacy to me was in my hands.  Every time I pick up a tool his hand is guiding mine.  One time not long after he passed I was repairing the fence around the property we had just bought here in Indiana.  Fence building and especially repairing were activities that we did a lot of on the farm, and as I was pulling a strand of barb wire taut and tying it off I felt him there with me.  I don't mean like a ghost or anything,  just that he was there in each thing I did to mend that fence.  That sense of his presence was so strong that I think I stopped mourning for him in that instant.  I know he will be with me in that way for as long as I live, and how can you be in mourning for someone who is still there.
     I don't know if I have passed anything like that along to your dad and your uncles or not.  I know I did not push them to be my apprentice carpenters, plumbers, and mechanics when I was  fixing things around home while they were growing up.  I apologize to them that I did not.  I advise you, my grandchildren, to seek out opportunities to learn and practice manual skills;  building and fixing provides a special kind of satisfaction not available anywhere else.  I hope that you have some opportunity to practice these skills alongside your dad so you can understand and share the bond I had with mine.
     As usual, this essay has gone in a somewhat different direction than I thought it would when I started.  That isn't only OK, it part of the fun.  I've spent a few minutes enjoying remembering my dad and hope you haven't minded being dragged along.