Elizabeth Cook: Jewels of wisdom for Father’s Day

Published 12:20 am Sunday, June 19, 2016

For last Father’s Day my husband, Ed, was reflecting on the lessons he hoped to pass on to our daughters — all adults now but forever children to us. He emailed some other dads to get their help.

“I’m writing with an unusual request, to invite you to share some comments on your dad or granddad. More specifically, whether it’s a line, a paragraph, or a page… please share special things he taught you about life.”

Wonderful responses came in. I know this because Ed compiled them into an email and forwarded them to our daughters — his Father’s Day gift to them.

This Father’s Day, I am passing on some of what these men had to say. Clearly they learned from their fathers’ words and actions, a reminder that children are always watching. 

My dad was an advocate of the Golden Rule and was constantly asking me “Frank, just do or treat your friend the way you would want to be treated.” Over time he would just say, “Think in Reverse.” In front of others, Dad would just say “reverse,” which meant nothing to anyone but me.

My dad worked for the railroad and we were middle class like 95 percent of Monroe, but I can remember him stressing to me something about celebrities when I left for Carolina.  He suggested I treat normal people like celebrities and treat celebrities like normal people.

— Frank Eason

It is more difficult than I imagined to try and capture what my daddy meant to me and what he taught me. … Through his actions, I learned that family was very, very important, that you get one chance to raise your children — and that that window of opportunity closes quickly, so you’d better be involved from the start. I learned that it was important to be a decent, responsible person that helped others when they needed help, and that help shouldn’t be conditional or based on it being reciprocated down the road.

Daddy took pride in looking and acting like a professional, and that meant staying clean shaven, hair combed (and clipped!), ironed or pressed clothing, and polished shoes. … He was a man that liked a challenge, a man that paid his bills, and a man that genuinely liked people, liked having discussions with strangers, and liked making new friends—and he had many.

Raised on a farm and during the Great Depression, he learned the value of hard work, but he also understood and made sure that there was time for play, too. Baseball, basketball, football, golf — most any sport or game, we were encouraged to play, and he joined in, too. …

I miss him still, and I am proud to be his son.

— Stan Honeycutt

Like many people, I learned a lot from my dad, even if I didn’t appreciate or understand it until later.

He worked hard as a sole practitioner attorney, often meeting with clients at night or on weekends. A lot of his clients were friends and a lot of his friends were clients – often I had no idea which came first so I think that says a lot about him. Like Atticus Finch, it was not unusual to get paid in kind – which explains how we ended up with a giant espresso machine that must have been in a restaurant – I think we used it once.

I learned a lot about loyalty from Dad. He has stuck by and with people – especially family members – when many others would have said “enough” and cut ties.

Dad took time when I know he must have been tired to play catch or shinny hockey or go ice skating. I could measure my growth or aging by when I started to get as good or better than he was.

He introduced me to some great books, great music, great movies – things that are still among my favorites. We would make a habit of watching one really dumb TV show together each week: $6 Million Man, Dukes of Hazzard, A-Team…mostly just to hang out and laugh together.

Dad is very creative and entrepreneurial. Not all his ideas or ventures were successful, but I saw that he wasn’t afraid to try something and that meant a lot. Even later in life he has discovered and enhanced new interests and activities so he still doesn’t stand pat.

I have never doubted his love for me or his pride in my accomplishments. He offers advice — often unsolicited — but always seems fine with whether or not I accept or act on it. That trust and confidence means a lot too.

Dad didn’t have the easiest childhood, moving around a lot, and he lost his mom when he was a college student. I think that has fed his motivations but also his need and desire to maintain strong family connections across generations and geography. He will travel a long way for a family wedding of a distant cousin!

He is not perfect, of course, but he is a good and kind man and he continues to be an influential person in my life.

— Brien Lewis

The best advice from my dad was really a Norman Vincent Peale adage to “always believe in yourself, and you can do anything you set your mind to do.”

— Dyke Messinger