Way back when our youngest Benji was a Northview student, we attended a father-son youth meeting at Christ Community Church. I don't remember the conversation, but do recall his response: "My dad's dad said..."
When our children gather for my wake -- some many years hence -- they probably won't remember a thing I told them (they don't remember now, why should they then?). All of them, though, will have something they learned which "dad's dad said."
When Kay and I were married in 1965 I figured about 75 percent of everything I knew about life came from my father. If you're keeping score at home, about 24.99 percent came from my mother and the rest from schools and books and such. Over the years I have learned a thing or two on my own, most often by mistake -- things I never intended to learn. Now only about 50 percent of everything I now know of life came from my dad.
That I quote him so often my kids quote him and not me is indicative of two things:
First, I have very few original thoughts. This is most demonstrable when speaking, revealing to all I have nothing very useful going on in my pea brain.
Second, I quote my father mostly because I learn more from what I hear than what I read or see. My sister, who has a Masters degree and 20 years of teaching experience, says that's just how my brain works. Not too sure if I like her explanation; prefer to believe it's because my dad was so informative.
Strangely I've neither any specific list of things he said, nor awareness of having quoted any one thing repetitiously. Rather, things just seem to spring out of me as circumstances come about or some buried memory is triggered by words or events. I tried once to make a list to sell to some magazine. Couldn't think of anything -- and that was when I was younger and my memory (the second thing to go) went.
I'm not aware of his ever trying to deliberately teach me something; mostly it just sunk into the uncharted depths of the human mind. There was only one time when my father specifically gave me advice which he was willing to label as such. He may have been aware up to then that being young I already knew everything and wouldn't listen to anything labeled advice.
I do remember everything about his giving that advice, and live by it every day of my life.
I just can't pull things out of the recesses of my brain on demand which my father said in the normal course of my growing up. Would it have helped if he'd labeled more of what I could have learned from him as "advice?" Never dare give our own kids advice, so might as well let go of any hope they will remember anything I said.
All our kids claim they read their daddy's Blogs, maybe they can remember something I said my father said -- before the wake.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.