"If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." — E.B. White

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"IF" ~ a lesson from my Dad

My Dad passed away two years ago. It was very unexpected and affected me deeply, despite the fact that we didn't have a super close relationship. He was an admirable man in many ways and I have many fond childhood memories of him. Sadly, he struggled with depression and alcoholism later, and my teen years on became fraught with conflict. We were estranged for many years. Blessedly, by the time of my children's births we were close again and my children enjoyed being spoiled by "Pop Pop."  He came from very humble beginnings in London and worked very hard to get an education and provide for his family.

My Dad taught me lots. He was an original DIYer. When I wanted to have my own horse, he taught me that only my own hard work could provide all I'd need. We started by remodeling an old barn on our new property... It needed electricity and plumbing. We did it all and I have old pictures of me down in a trench hooking up water hydrants to prove it! After buying my first horse (at the age of 12) with my own savings *and a loan with 5% interest for the balance from my parents*, I had to work to pay for the ongoing costs. I waitressed, took in another horse on board, taught riding lessons and was a working student myself.

One lesson from Dad was to memorize Rudyard Kipling's poem "If."
I think he gave me $10 after I could recite it to him. I must admit I had no idea then how many times I'd want to lean on those words for strength later in my life. They often seem made for me. The horse world is a hard one... All longtime professionals and most hobbyists can tell tales of heartache. I am so grateful that my Dad showed me that I had the tools to get myself where ever I wanted to go.
Thanks Dad. I miss you.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, 
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

The Dad in this house will be treated to whatever he wants on Father's Day. Starting with brunch at his favorite place Dutch's Daughter. He's always teaching his kids great things, mostly by example.

Here he is showing Jack how to evaluate the corn crop for weeds and growth by the car's headlights!

And how to be a safe driver. Just don't listen too closely kids!  ;-P

And mostly how to work hard n care for the ones you love!

Thanks Daddy, we love you !!!


Janie Fox said...

too sweet. I love the poem. And daddies with little boys :)

mountain mama said...

so glad your dad taught you so much, that's awesome!!

hope y'all have a great week! =)

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Great post...God knows who we need for our Dads and even with their imperfections God teaches us through them...we are still blessed. The work ethic, one of the best inheritances we can have...I think it is lost a lot today.

Great way to honor your Dad...must pull that poem out again and write it out to be memorized by my younger boys.

Great pictures of your hubby and kids...a true wonderful Dad...you are all blessed.

Vintage Country Girl said...

Great advice. Hope your husband had a good father's day!

Lori said...

Hard to believe it's been 2 years. Your dad tought you well,
you are one hard working cookie.

Hope the Farmer had a nice day and
took some time out to sit.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful, Leslie. I miss my dad too.

That poem is priceless and I'm so glad you shared it. I'm passing it along to my loved ones too.

Much love.