Truths my father told me

Tonight and tomorrow mark the yahrtzeit of my father, Harry Mager. He passed away long before his time in October of 1985. Yet, the conversations he had with me feel as if they happened only yesterday. He taught me by word and example many things that have enriched my life. Today, in a sense, I am allowing him to write a guest posting through me. Here are some things I learned from him.

1. No matter what your situation, you have the ability to influence it for the better.
My father was in high school when the Depression began. His family was not doing well financially. He quit school and went to work. He worked hard and learned skills that served him later in his life. He harbored no bitterness; he did what he needed to do.

2. It’s possible to be optimistic even when times are rough.
Fortunately, my father’s life was not a difficult one. His greatest challenge was dealing with my mother, and although she was a formidable challenge, it was not as if he were fighting illness or poverty. However, as with all people, there were times that were less than perfect. Yet, he always had a positive attitude. He looked at each day as a gift.

3. Enjoy the world around you.
My father could have been a great artist. He didn’t have the opportunity to develop his art to the degree that it became commercial, but there was nothing he built, drew, sewed, designed, or sculpted that wasn’t superb. His photography was beautiful. He loved nature. He loved the seasons. When there was a huge snowfall one year and he was unable to go to work, I remember him telling me to get ready so that we could take a long walk in the snow. He loved it. So did I. He loved trees and flowers. He loved beautiful sunsets. The year he became ill, I was saddened to think that he might not see another spring. The day he was buried, the trees were clad in their autumn reds and yellows and oranges and browns, and I thought he would have loved to have seen them.

4. Be kind.
My father was a kind man. He was respectful and courteous, and gentle.

5. Treasure the time you have.
One of my earliest memories is of riding in the back of my parents’ car and hearing my father say to my mother, “Life is too short.” I think he had that awareness at all times and that he tried to fill every moment with something significant. In his store, he had not customers, but friends. People would meet him once and feel as if they had been his friend for years. His leisure time he filled with reading books that helped him self-educate. He became a big fan of Mark Twain. He read Shakespeare for pleasure. He bought and listened to classical music. All of the education he hadn’t been able to acquire as a young man, he reached for as an adult.

6. Love Learning
In addition to his reading, my father was interested in learning any way he could. He took adult education courses, he watched documentaries, and he loved to listen to other people tell their stories.

7. Love your family
One of the sweetest memories of my father is of his standard way of saying goodbye as I would be leaving their house after a visit. He would say, “Drive carefully; you have precious cargo.” He told me that I was a millionaire and told me more than once that I had five million dollars– referring to the five children. I don’t really know the story but my mother had a gold bracelet that had five diamonds on it. I like to think that that my father bought it for her as another way of acknowledging their good fortune at having five precious gems as grandchildren. I know that he adored them and I remember thinking that the day the children and I spent at Busch Gardens with him, he was the happiest I had ever seen him.

My father is not with us physically, but his influence on my life is profound, and I hope that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren will feel his influence for years to come.

Our family, September 1956

Our family, September 1956

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Comments

  1. Beautiful. Thanks!

  2. Sandy Gruenberg says

    I remember him as a handsome and very kind man. You described him so beautifully. May his memories be for a blessing!

  3. and how lucky he was to have you as a daughter!

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