My dad was a pretty smart dude, and we four kids learned a lot from him.
We learned general things like:
♦ A sharp knife is safer to use than a dull knife when used correctly.
♦ If you’re cutting something with a knife — like a piece of string or a vegetable, always make sure the pointy/sharp end is facing away from you (and everybody else in the room).
♦ Don’t just reach across the table and over other people’s plates to get to the rolls or meat or whatever. (To do so would invariably result in a quick rap on the knuckles with the flat side of his butter knife).
♦ If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This one I wish I’d used on a couple of relationships, because “fixing” one that isn’t broken is a good way to break it.
And a lot about driving:
♦ The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, unless you’re dealing with Atlanta traffic. Then you might want to check out the state highways and surface streets. (In this case, I think he just enjoyed the views better on the state highways.)
♦ When driving a car with manual steering and you need to make a turn, don’t be shy, just “TURN! TURN! TURN!” the wheel (a direct quote, including emphasis). Granted, that one is now obsolete unless your power steering gives out, then it’s still a good thing to know.
♦ Don’t drive too close to the right side of the road, a lot of debris settles there, so it’s a good way to get a flat tire.
♦ The roads are slickest the first few minutes that it starts to rain after a dry spell. The rain mixes with the accumulated oils and the roads become slip-n-slides.
He also taught us good rules when it comes to character.
♦ If you borrow money or something else, return it as soon as possible.
♦ If you tell someone you’re going to do something for them, then do it.
♦ Take the blame when you do something wrong, apologize, and accept the consequences.
But some of the biggest lessons were learned by his example.
♦ Think outside of the box.
Such as when our power went out for a week after an ice storm, he turned our riding mower into a generator to preserve our food in the fridge and freezer, to cook at mealtimes and to heat the house at night when the fire died down in the fireplace.
Wrapping tin around a couple of trees next to the house to keep our cat from using them to climb on to get to the roof. It didn’t work, the cat still found ways of getting on the roof, but it was a new theory worth testing.
The way he cared for my mother when she was battling breast cancer. I remember talking to my high school boyfriend on the phone while my dad was revving up a carpet shampooer — my mom felt the carpet needed cleaning. My boyfriend laughed and said, “That’s woman’s work!” Click. That was the end of that relationship.
The point of that one was that back during a time when gender roles were pretty well laid out, he knew staying inside that box when his wife needed him most would have been a violation of his wedding vows. He had promised he’d take care of her in sickness and in health — and so he did. It’s memories of him showing his love for her and for us in these ways that taught me that when you love someone, you do your best for them whether it’s expected of you or not.
Just don’t try to fix something that ain’t broke.
Amy Knowles is the editorial page content manager and night editor at Rome News-Tribune. She may be contacted at AKnowles@RN-T.com.