Throughout the ages and around the world, societies look to their elders for wisdom and guidance. It isn’t that older people are better educated or blessed with higher intelligence. The answer simply lies in the fact that they’ve been around longer and had more exposure to life than their youthful counterparts. Experience has been proven to be the best teacher. My dad had a saying that summed up this phenomenon. It was passed to him by his father and he shared it with me: “Too old too soon, too smart too late.”
As I approach 70, I appreciate this pearl of wisdom more than ever.
Next Sunday is Father’s Day. It is an observance, quite frankly, that resulted because of Mother’s Day. It took awhile to become officially added to the calendar but eventually Dad also received his day in the sun.
Traditionally, fathers are considered “the head of the household.” They are the hunters and gatherers, the providers and protectors. They go to work, plow fields and venture into coal mines. They work in factories, drive trucks, go to war and put out fires. They protect our communities, uphold the laws, and fight the enemies, selflessly putting their own life on the line for their family and country.
Besides being providers and protectors, fathers are teachers. Most of my handyman skills were learned while watching Dad as he worked around the house, fixing things that were broken, and constructing new projects. While attacking his weekend to-do list, he often stopped and patiently explained how to properly complete the task. “Eddie, if you’re going to do the job, do it right.” At a young age I learned basic carpentry, plumbing, electrical and mechanical skills from my best teacher.
Fathers instill their children with a set of values. Much is taught by their example, good or bad. Fortunately for me, my dad set a good example and I wanted to be just like him. Whenever I got in trouble at school or with a neighbor, I was always more concerned about what Dad would say. The threat of “Wait until your father gets home” always got my attention. He taught me right from wrong and about accepting responsibility for my mistakes.