Don’t Do as I Do…But

As I mentioned before my wife and I were not fortunate enough to have had any children. But maybe the post will accidentally fall into the hands of some of you who can learn from one of my life’s lessons.

One of the things that I found strikingly odd when I was growing up was that our parents would take me and my two brothers to church almost every Sunday and drop us off. They would then go back home and do whatever it was they did. I always wondered why church was necessary for us but not for them. They claimed to be Christians but almost never went to church! This is another example of the old saying “Don’t do as I do but do as I say”. The church thing was not the last lesson I learned in this area. Several more would pop up but this was the one that probably troubled me the most as a kid. Now that I am grown up, at least chronologically that is, I can see what affect this had on my life. Soon after I was on my own I too dropped out of church. I guess the lesson I learned was that church was for children and not grownups. Of course I knew better by that time but that was the lesson ingrained on my memory.

Another strong lesson in the “don’t do as I do” area was about smoking. My father was a heavy smoker and always told us kids that smoking was bad for you but he continued smoking for the rest of his life. Of course, again when I was on my own I almost immediately started smoking and continued to do so for almost twenty five years. Instead of learning the “don’t do as I do” lesson I learned that we are led by the examples of others especially our parents. Dad did try to quit several times but was never successful for more than a short period. He died of colon cancer before any lung cancer could catch up to him. I loved my father but couldn’t understand why he didn’t lead by example.

As I said I smoked for almost twenty five years! I finally quit when my wife had her first heart attack in 1992. At that point I learned just how tight a grip nicotine addiction can grab a person. I, unlike Dad, did manage to quit but it was one of the most difficult things I have had to do.

Dad was a loving father although like most men of his generation he almost never showed much affection. That was another lesson by example I wish I had not learned. I am a much more emotional person than my father but telling someone how you feel about them is still sometimes difficult for me. I just don’t do it as often as I want to or should.

I seem to be picking on my Dad here but I did love him very much. When we were ready to move back from the East Coast to Indiana I was looking forward to spending much more time with him. We had become very good friends by that point and yes he did tell me on a few occasions that he was proud of me and loved me. Unfortunately he died about six months before our return. I still think of him almost daily.

The picture above is of Dad’s high school class from Belle Union Indiana in 1940. He is the first boy from the right in the third row from the bottom just beyond the teachers. I miss you Dad! I wish we could have spent more time together in your final years.

And the journey goes on…

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