Life lessons our fathers taught us throughout our lives




Footsteps approach from down the hallway. The door opens slowly. A hand reaches in toward the switch.


The bright light registers as shock inside the awakening teenager's mind. Cold sweat beads on the teen's forehead as he braces for the words he has heard myriad times before on a Saturday morning after a late night out with friends.

"He who hoots with owls at night shall not soar with the eagle at dawn," the father says in a low, dramatic voice, like Charlton Heston as Moses bellowing to the people in "The Ten Commandments."

Dad takes sadistic glee in this, but there is an undeniable business undercurrent here.

The teen knows the yard work won't do itself. And, if he doesn't get up now, his father will do the work, meaning two consequences: a deduction in weekly allowance as well as a father's icy wrath.

These were the words my dad, Curt Pearson, said to me to emphasize that Saturday chore work gets done on his schedule, not mine.

But the Rolodex of fatherly sayings such as this included some more helpful gems, with one in particular going something like this: "If you are in a situation where you feel the back of the hair on your neck rise up, back away."

These words rang in my head one night as I refused to hit the town with a friend who later crashed his car and nearly died. Having viewed the damage, I concluded that there was a low probability of survival for a passenger in that car.

And then there is my favorite: "The oxen are slow, but the earth is patient." No explanation needed on that one.

In celebration of Father's Day today, Tyler Morning Telegraph readers were asked to share their fathers' sayings. Here they are:

My daddy instilled in me a love of growing things. He always said, ‘The most important thing to find in your garden every day is your shadow.'"

Beth Walker, 65, of Lindale, about her father, Jerry Holmes.

"My dad, Oren Williams Sr., was an incredible, loving, godly, hardworking man and father of five sons and five daughters, of which I am the youngest. He and my mom were married for 71 years. My dad always taught his children to depend on God for everything. My dad used his heart and most of all, listened to the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit in everything he did. Because of that, his love for God lives on through his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He also instilled in me the verse from Colossians 3:17, ‘Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.' It has been my motto in everything I do."

Sandra Owens, 54, assistant principal at Andy Woods Elementary School in Tyler, about her father, Oren Williams Sr.

"My daddy took me to work with him one day when I was a boy. I was amazed that he seemed to be just as good a friend to the owner of the company as he was to the old, deaf man who swept the factory break room floor. He spent time talking to both of them. I guess I found that unusual. When I asked him about it, he told me, ‘I'm not better than any man, and no man is better than me.' I'm a better man for knowing that."

James Chambless, 48, Flint, about his father, Harold Chambless.

"‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest.' His implication that destruction befalls the lazy (said in a very dramatic British accent). Also, this poem, ‘The Rich Man:' ‘The rich man has his motor-car, His country and his town estate. He smokes a 50-cent cigar, And jeers at Fate. He frivols through the livelong day, He knows not Poverty, her pinch. His lot seems light, his heart seems gay; He has a cinch. Yet though my lamp burns low and dim, Though I must slave for livelihood — Think you that I would change with him? You bet I would!'"

Rebecca Hoeffner, religion writer for the Morning Telegraph, about her father, Byron

"My dad firmly and proudly says, ‘A step in time, do your ordinary duties extraordinarily well,' a quote from Don Bosco Makati at the Catholic school Mom and Dad sent me and my two younger brothers."

Edwin Santos, Tyler, about his dad, Nestor.

"When we were kids, and the chore at hand was a tough one, he would always use this quote, "Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.'"

Jimmy Arber, 48, Tyler, about his father, Don Arber.

"You can never been too careful."

Kathryn Garvin, Tyler Morning Telegraph copy editor, about her father, Bill Schroedl

"My dad passed away when I was 12. I'm a senior citizen now but still remember that he told me, ‘Be a Drum Major!' He meant to always do the best in any area of life. Funny, I ended up being drum major of my high school band, then on to TJC to be active in the Apache Belles and performing in musicals. He would have loved to have cheered me on as I graduated college with two degrees and then taught school for 27 years. Dad would have loved my husband and his two wonderful grandsons. I think Carl Hathcox would have concluded that I followed his advice: ‘Be A Drum Major!' Thanks for the advice, Daddy."

Carleta Hathcox Cates, 62, Whitehouse, about her father Carl Hathcox

"My dad ALWAYS said ‘The good deals always outlast the money!' Boy was he right! His is the wisest man I will ever know! Love you Dad!"

Molly Sash, 27, Lindale, of her father Paul Henderson.

"My parents divorced when I was small, so like so many others, my grandfather Earl Patton, stepped into that role in my life. His influence in all our lives was unending. He died at 93 about 35 days after my grandmother, right before my child, Caroline, started kindergarten almost four years ago. She came in on Monday and said, ‘Mom, Poppy said you never ever give up.' If it is something you want and need to do, you act like your life is depending on it. His life was like that. He was brought up in Oklahoma as the nearly forgotten last child after his parents divorced. He got shuffled around. I think that played a huge role in why he stepped in for me. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was older than the men joining up, but he went like his life depended on it. He said his life really started when he married my grandmother. She gave him what he wanted — stability and a home. He said he really never needed anything after that."

Susan Seaberry Wells, Tyler.

"My late father, Homer Lee Kirkwood, former mayor of Eustace, instilled in my sister, Beckie Kirkwood Harvey, and me that we should always do our best in whatever we do.

Although we disagree with exactly what he said, the meaning is still the same.

As the older sibling, I remember him saying. ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing well.'

An online search revealed that this adage has been around for centuries. A British statesman and man of letters, Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, wrote, ‘Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well' in a letter to his son on March 10, 1746.

Since then, it has taken on various forms.

My sister believes our dad said, ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing right.' This is a quote by Hunter S. Thompson, an American journalist and author.

It is conceivable that our dad said it both ways. Regardless, we both agree how wonderful it would be to have him here with us to ask him face to face."

Hattie Kirkwood Kemp, 59, Ben Wheeler, journalist, about her father, Homer Lee Kirkwood.

"This might not translate when written, but here is my best shot. Every year at Christmas — and I mean EVERY year — my dad will find an unsuspecting person, point to a wreath and say, ‘Wow — that is a really nice Franklin. Those are so rare.' Unsuspecting person will say, ‘A Franklin? I have never heard of that.' My dad responds with, ‘You know — Aretha Franklin.' Cue rimshot noise."

Maegan Schneider, of Adams Engineering & Development Consultants of Tyler and member of Leadership Tyler Class 24.

"While in Miguel de Allende, Mexico, we used to walk to the market ever day early in the morning. We walked by a small man, crouched on the side walk. Dad gave him a few coins every day. After a couple of weeks, I asked dad why he helped him every day. He said, ‘Because he needs to eat every day.' It was recently that he shared being an orphan in New York in the mid-1940s and struggling to eat a meal every day."

Christina Fulsom, of the East Texas Human Needs Network, Tyler.

My father had a lot of sayings, but one of his favorites was, ‘Don't sweat the small stuff. If you worry about every little thing then you'll never make any progress.' Dad died Aug 13, 2008. We worked together many years as partners on construction sites."

Tyler Morning Telegraph police reporter Kenneth Dean about his father, Floyd Dean

"If you ask my dad for anything he normally has, like toothpicks or his fingernail clippers, you get, ‘Do bears live in the woods?' When he doesn't have them on him for some reason, ‘No bears in the woods, today.' And I've never been able to figure this out, but when he gets a job done really fast and you compliment him, he says, ‘It doesn't take me all day to look at a stump.' The meaning is clear, but the origin is murky.

Katie Powell, 44, Tyler, Azleway development associate, about her dad, Fred Powell.

My dad always says this when referring to those people who think they are better than others, ‘They put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do.' Another saying was that ‘A man's word was his bond.'

Darrell Clakley, Tyler resident and postmaster of White Oak, about his 87-year-old dad, Levi Clakley.

"My dad is a very funny guy and likes to say things like, ‘Prior planning prevents … poor performance' when my brother and I (or anyone else) procrastinates. Now I have caught myself saying this as well! Ha! When we would lose something, such as shoes, he would say, ‘Last time I used ‘em, I put them up!" Now I say that, too. Other gems: ‘I was born at night but it wasn't last night.' ‘A little power is a dangerous thing.' And lastly, ‘He's all hat and no cattle."

-Maegan Brackin, age 28, bookkeeper, of Tyler, said about her dad, Harold McGowen.




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