He Taught Me How to Live a Happy Life

give light and people will find the way

I always was a daddy’s girl….from the time I was small I remember waiting by the big picture window in our living room for my dad to come home from work, so I could reach into the pocket of his shirt and pull out a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, sorting through various wire nuts and bolts from his job as an electrician…..I wanted to see him so he would say something sweet and funny and call me “Melly”…..and so I could hear his irresistibly contagious laugh.

It’s got to be hard to make 9 children feel like they’re each your favorite child, but I’m pretty sure my dad did that…he just has that magic about him….now I see him doing it with his grandchildren….my kids get the same excited anticipation when we are getting ready to visit my parents…maybe Grandpa will take them for a ride in the trailer behind the lawn tractor, or tell them a joke, or sing his funny songs while he’s playing the guitar….for sure, he’ll do something to make us all laugh…”Grandpa is so happy!” “Grandpa is so nice, all the time!”

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My dad is a singer.he always was…he and my mom passed their love of music and performing down to all of their children.  I was sort of the rebel where this is concerned.wanted to make my own path and chose art and business and anything else I could think of instead..

Mel and DadBut, last year at a family picnic…I got up and sang a karaoke song with my dad…..I will never forget how happy it made him. I don’t even remember what we sang.I just remember that my dad couldn’t quit smiling…..

If I had to tell you the one person who shaped my life from the time I was a child, it was my dad…he loved classic cars, so I loved classic cars….he loved history, so I loved history…..he loved jokes, so I found every joke I could and I laughed at all of his….he owned and operated his own business, and from the time I was a little girl, I told myself, “someday I’m going to
treat my employees like family, just the way my dad does.” Because he was my hero, there was never a question in my mind that I’d have my own business someday.

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I remember when I was a kid, my dad slept most of the day on Sunday after church….the only day he didn’t work. I found out later that he was plagued with chronic headaches and they were only remedied with sleep. I can’t believe he went through all of those years with a smile as big and bright as a half moon on his face….and a constantly positive outlook on everything. It astounds me to know now how much pain he was really in. 6 years ago, he had a liver transplant, after about 15 years of feeling rotten…..he is back up and around and back to his old happy-go-lucky self….keeping their 5 acres as
beautiful as ever.

I also found out that he had a congenital heart defect and spent most of his childhood very ill, finally having one of the first open-heart surgeries done in the US when he was only 19. He grew up severely poor…and made a good life for himself, he went to school and became a journeyman electrician….once he had sufficient experience and the opportunity to do so, he started his own electrical contracting business….then an appliance and electronics store….then helped my older brothers and sisters start a Disco (seriously!) and helped my mom start a clothing store….

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When my dad was 50, he found that his bookkeeper had been embezzling for years, none of the bills were being paid, and he had to close the doors of his business….this was a defining moment in my life, to watch my dad go through losing what he’d spent his whole life building up….to have to start his life all over again at 50’s.it was very difficult, and he never  got things back to where they were before it all happened, but he started over and made a new life. Watching the strength of his character during that time taught me how to handle my own tragedies with grace.

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There were a lot of mouths to feed. We were not rich my any means, but we certainly had what we needed….what we got most was a drive to make our own way in the world…..a work ethic that can not be taught any way but by working, and the paradigm that when you want something, you figure out how to do the work it takes to get it…then you go out and do it, period. Well, that’s what I got anyway…guess I shouldn¹t speak for all of us….but 9 out of 9 kids have successful lives, happy marriages and are making it through the inevitable hurdles that are on our paths.

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So….here’s to you, dad. You taught me so much about how to really REALLY live my life…you have created a legacy that will go on and on and on…9 children and more than 40 grandchildren already.

…..just like you always tell me….and now I am saying it right back at ya….

“I am so proud of you!”

…and I am so so so thankful for you!