1. Look it up!
2. Do it yourself!
3. Work hard!
4. Be curious!
5. Challenge yourself!
1)There were books, encyclopedias, and dictionaries in my house growing up. When I or my sisters had a question, we were told to first look it up and then tell my father what we had learned. With the internet today, answers are usually found online, but people have to sift through to find the precise answers or information they are looking for.
2)At an early age, we learned to do things ourselves and to learn from our mistakes.
3)Hard work was a given in our household. My father was probably the best role model for hard work. Even in his 60s and 70s, he was building house additions, and making cross country trips to visit his brothers and sister in Massachusetts. And he was still taking college classes for fun.
4)My father valued education and travel and was curious about other countries, cultures and peoples. That was instilled in me early in life. It came as no surprise then that I was a Fulbright Teacher in Germany twice and brought my children along to learn another language and culture. As a student in Heidelberg, my father had many questions for me about places I had been to in Europe, Scandinavia and Africa.
5)We were constantly taught to challenge ourselves in life. Never give up but persevere. A job well done would be the reward for the hard work. Whether it was practicing piano, playing the organ at church, singing in the choir or doing 4-H projects every summer, we learned to value all challenges.
Both my parents lived through the Depression era. They lived a modest lifestyle by today’s standards. We had one car, one phone, one television set and the phone was a party line which meant we shared with a neighbor. My father’s father was killed felling trees when my father was 10 years old and the eldest of 6 surviving children. His mother was suddenly confronted with the task of working for and feeding all the children. She cleaned houses and did laundry for others. I heard many tales from my father and his brothers about how they helped out earning some money. Older appearing than his age of 15, my father started boxing to make some extra money and then sold his prizes to help support the family. My Uncle Joe dropped out of school to start factory work when he was 16 to support the family. My father worked hard in school and got a football scholarship to Boston University. Faced with knee injuries, he convinced the school to let him keep his scholarship and finish college. He did and graduated in 3 1/2 years and often said he just ate bread and drank water. Today’s young people might not fully grasp why anyone would willingly do this. My father’s thirst for knowledge was instilled in all of us. He helped his siblings earn their college degrees as well. Education was highly valued.
During my teaching career, I applied all these lessons. My parents met and married in Boston the same day my father graduated from Boston University on June 7, 1941. My mother worked as an RN in Massachusetts.
On visits to Colorado, I watched my father tell the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts who rang the doorbell that they could gather whatever apples lay on the ground or take scrap wood he had left over from his many woodworking projects in his backyard studio. The boys would then run into our backyard to collect these treasures. He was a generous, kind and loving man. We girls could take scrap pieces of wood and “build” tables and chairs for our dolls. Our furniture was wobbly, but we were proud of our hand-made items. These important life lessons remain with me and my family. Thank you, Dad. Thank you too, Mom. The best parents a child could ever hope to have.