My dad dropped out of school in the ninth grade because his dad died and his mom needed him to work to help them survive. Although he did not have an advanced degree, he gave me wisdom that I have carried all my life. Let me share it with you.

Whatever job you do, do it well.

He often told me that it did not matter what job someone had, it mattered how well he or she did it. He always told me to do my best no matter what I was doing. Effort is a sign of respect and character.

Do what’s right even when no one can see you.

A true sign of character is when you do the right thing when no one knows about it. Do something good without needing recognition.

Treat people well.

My dad treated everyone with respect no matter who the person was or how important that person was in the community. He taught me that everyone deserves to be treated well. I believe the best about someone unless they prove me wrong.

Keep a sense of humor.

Life can be tough and illogical. Laughter makes it so much better and humor can change someone’s outlook completely. Nothing seems quite as serious when you can laugh about it. Humor tends to put life in perspective.

There is always something more you can do.

My dad did not believe anyone should be idle at work. He thought there was always something you could find to do, and if you were being paid, you needed to be earning that pay. He also believed there is always something more you can do for people. My dad did acts of kindness all the time. He treated everyone equally, and gifted them the best he could.

Protect the ones you love.

Family was everything to my dad and he loved us unconditionally. Everyone should have someone who loves him or her that way. We lived in a very small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. One of the more famous stories was when my dad showed up at the door to meet my sister’s boyfriend of whom he did not approve. My dad was carrying the gun that he had supposedly been cleaning. The boy went home and never came back. Now, my father only used that gun to chase the gopher out of our garden, but it served its purpose that day.

Good friends are precious.

My dad realized that good friends were not easy to find. He would always encourage me to work on the positive relationships in my life and to make sure I stayed in contact with the people who were loyal friends.

Life is too short for a pity party.

My dad lost his leg to gangrene the year I was born. He never complained about having one leg, I never saw him let it slow him down, and he never expected anyone to pity him because of it. His attitude was you take what life gives you and you make the best of it. It would have seemed a waste of time to him to feel sorry for himself.

The proof that my dad knew how to treat people was evident at his funeral. At first, it was just the family huddled around his casket, and then the door opened and the people kept streaming into the room. I hope the wisdom he gave me will help me live a life that touches people the way he did.

Jennifer Bonn is a freelance writer and Kennesaw resident. She has been published in several magazines, and has published a book titled “Stay Away from the Girl’s Bathroom, A Teacher’s Guide.” It is available from Deeds Publishing at www.deedspublishing.com.

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