Do not whine…Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.
~ Joan Didion
We are all influenced by our parents, by the good, the bad, and the mediocre. Everything they bring into our life will affect us.
Their viewpoints, the way they treat other people, and their tone of voice, all are an integral part of the people we chose to become.
I have been on a journey recently of looking back at my parents, especially my Dad, and the influence they had on me. There are a lot of feelings and emotions involved but in a good way. It has not been until recently that I have taken the time to revisit my experiences growing up; it has been enlightening on many levels.
I chose the above quote by Joan Didion because it perfectly describes my father. He was not a whiner, I never heard him complain, and he worked harder. He also spent much of his time alone. I see myself in that quote as well; although I may whine from time to time.
It was also difficult finding an image that fit who my father was. I chose it because of the words, “Do More.” Looking at the picture, I wonder what he would think of computers, Social Media, and cell phones; none of those things existed when my Dad was alive.
My father was a hard worker, he was an introvert, and as such, he enjoyed spending time with himself. He was not a loving parent, but I knew he loved me. There are some parts of him that I respect and some that I do not.
I do respect his work ethic. It was displayed in everything he did and everything he touched. His home office was immaculate and organized; nothing was out of place. The same thing can be said about his basement and his barn, his car, and his garden. All were perfect, or as close as he could make them.
I am sure that was what he wanted his children to be as well, and of course, we are not. You can, however, see his influence in each of us. His imprint is there, some good and some bad.
My father loved paperwork, which was a large part of his last occupation as a realtor. Even when he developed Alzheimer’s, and it slowly stole away the essence of who he was, he loved paper.
We sometimes gave him paper and pen when we sat with him, and he would talk and write. We could not read the writing, or understand his words, but it seemed to calm him. Once at the hospital where he spent over a year of his life, he wandered away, and he was found one floor below, sitting in the nurses' station, going through files. He was content and looked right at home.
He often did more than what most would have expected from him. When he was a realtor, he would go beyond the norm and help them clean their yards, trim bushes, and rake leaves. Anything to make the appearance more appealing. He may have irritated a client from time to time, but it helped him be successful in selling their homes.
Hard Work spotlights the Character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, some don’t turn up at all. ~ Sam Ewing
When I was working, I can see my father’s influence on me. I was precise, and I put extra effort into what I did. I worked harder and did more than what was expected, just like him.
It wasn’t necessary, but it was who I was. If he were here now, I would tell him how much I appreciate him and his influence. I am my father’s daughter, and I am happy with that. Could he have been a better father? Yes, but the same can be said about me; I could be a better parent. When I look back, there are so many things I would do differently. I believe my father would think the same of himself.
His influence made me an effective employee, and it helped me be successful. I remember talking at the annual meeting about winning the prior year’s employee of the year award. I referred to my upbringing and saying that although striving for excellence was never talked about by my parents; I understood that was just the way it was supposed to be.
Other people who knew my Dad may have a different opinion or were affected by him differently. I understand that, but it matters not to me because of the positive effect his work ethic had on me. In my experience, and this context, my father made me better, and I will always respect him for that.
Love you, Dad.
Other stories about my father: