Teachings of My Father

 My Father was a consummate learner and as such was a great teacher.

During his lunch hours, siting outside on the sidewalk on Amador, he once watched as masons built a brick fence for a new business across the street.  He would go over and ask questions about how to set brick and how to mix the mortar. 

Then at home, he built a brick fence around our house.  Years later at a new home, he elicited my help (read: told me) to building a taller and larger fence.

I spent hours digging the foundation and even more hours mixing the mortar in the mortar boat by hand.  I hauled the brick and helped to place, level, and clean and shape the mortar.  So when I built the brick walls for my basement in my own home, I already knew how to place the forms, pour cement and lay brick.

My Father started as the shop sweeper in the machine shop.  He would practice on left over pieces of metal shafting on the lathe during his lunch hour and again ask questions of the machinists and later was hired as a machinist.  Many years later he became the shop foreman!   So whenever a piece of metal was needed to be fabricated, he would make it on his lunch hour in the shop.  While I was in Dental School he made me some custom pieces of Dental equipment. 

Boat prop shafts, go-carts, swing sets, play houses, a new shop, hot rods, water skis, motor ski boat, pigeon houses, cable cars, water well boring, tree houses, boat trailers, engine rebuilds, house renovations, pump repairs, swamp cooler installation and repair, brick BBQ pit, automatically rotating shish-kabob spit, whole house painting, driveway flat work, roofing, plumbing, electrical, carpet laying, vinyl floor tile installation, sash window repairs, lathe and plaster, glass replacement, auto repairs, tree trimming,  camp fire making, tent erection, cooking over an open fire, hunting and firearm use, wilderness survival, four wheeling, and the list continues of the things he had me assist and learn how to do.  I tell fellow workers today that I’m the world’s best helper.

I was required to assist him in the evenings to do these various projects.  I would often protest as I needed to study my school work!  He would say, “Oh, you don’t need to study!” 

This went on for years until one day he came upon a modern math word problem.  He spent many hours using reams of paper to figure out the answer.  Then one evening he gave me the math question.  It was simple algebra, while eating my meal I created the formula in my head and did the math functions also in my head.  Now he would also would not let me do arithmetic using pencil and paper.  He would say, “Do it in your head.”  So after a few moments of mental calculations, I gave him the correct answer.  He nearly fell off his chair and reiterated how many pages he used to figure it out.  Ironic isn’t it?

Naturally, he started to leave a little more time to study.

From the teachings of my father, I have rebuilt my cruiser from the frame up, remodeled numerous houses, and now my biggest project is building my own home.  I am forever grateful for the experiences and the time I spent with my father. 

We all have those in our life that have pushed us and made demands on our time and efforts. We may look at these experiences with resentment or frustration but often times we can come out the other end benefited with wonderful knowledge and wisdom.

Additionally, I’m always in awe of all the teachers in my life.  How as the student, I’ve exceeded their expectations.  Now I see the same in my students as well.

In this season of reflection, take a moment to look back and see how far you have come because of the experiences you had, like a demanding father.