Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lessons from My Father

My father, Lee Doyle, was nearly 37 when I was born.  While I was a child he worked shifts at a steel mill, often 12-hour days or nights instead of the usual 8.  In addition to his 40- to 60-hour/week regular job, he had a small business repairing watches and clocks and sold jewelry.  He also owned several rental homes that often seemed in need of repair, not to mention the upkeep and repairs to our own home, all of which he did himself.  I don't remember much play time with Dad:  his schedule was heavy with work and home responsibilities.

After Dad passed away my mom claimed that he was a workaholic.  It's true he worked hard and was frequently working at one thing or another, but I disagree with my mom.  I don't think he worked just because he loved it.  I believe he worked to provide an income for his family, because he knew the work needed done, and because it cost less to do it himself than to hire someone to do it.  I think my father was often tired.

In many respects Dad was a stern man.  There were certain expectations of behavior in our home and not too much leniency.  I think he expected of his children the same dedication to work, high morals, and self-motivation that he had.

Dad often taught in similes.  I cannot think of a specific one but I can often remember telling him something that I wanted to do and he would say, "Well, now, that would be like..." and then go on to explain further.  Sometimes it was effective and sometimes his similes passed over my head.

I have been thinking recently of the lessons I learned growing up in my parents' home, especially the lessons I learned from my father.  So many of them were not spoken with words but with his actions and behavior. 
  1. Do your best.  The next time, do better than the previous time.
  2. Improve yourself and your circumstance.  I don't remember either of my parents using words to teach us to be our best or to aim for self-improvement but somehow that message impressed itself on me.  We were a middle- or lower-middle-class family but the expectation was that we would learn proper manners, be honest at all times, become educated, and improve our circumstances.
  3. Work hard.  Work until the job is done, even if you can only work on it a little at a time.  Be persisent, consistent, and finish the job.  And make sure it's done as well as you can do it.
I'm thankful for the lessons I absorbed from my father when I was a child.  They've held me in good stead over the years.  Thank you, Dad.  Happy Father's Day.  I love you.



  1. Happy Father's Day! I'm sure Grandpa taught me a lot before I was born ;)

    1. Yes, I'm certain he did, too, Brenna. You both sometimes had/have the same sparkle in your eyes and a similar "do it" attitude.

  2. Your tribute expresses my own thoughts about lessons I learned from my parents. Like you, I can't remember them ever preaching to me about how I should act but somehow I got the message. I've always known I was lucky to have good parents.


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