I wish I could honestly say that I have no regrets. If I could, it wouldn’t be close to the truth. It wouldn’t even be 50 yards from the truth, whatever that means, but you get the point. What I can admit is I’ve done a lot of things wrong and although it would warp the time-space continuum, I wish I could right a few wrongs. I also wish I could reward those choice people who have shaped my life, but are now in my distant past.
One in particular was a school teacher in Morgan, Utah. I do not remember her name or face, but she made a huge impact on my life simply by giving me a book. My Dad’s job caused us to move frequently, so much of my school years are foggy memories of only faces and classes.
It was Christmas morning somewhere around 1962 and I rode my new bike through the snow to her house to show it off. I didn’t really know anyone and for some reason, it was important for me to show it to her. She was delighted and for my effort, she gave me a one volume very thick illustrated encyclopedia. I loved that book and poured through it daily and this was probably one reason I still love to read. We moved away and I never had a chance to thank her.
I think I was born with a rebellious nature, distrusting authority from a young age. A psychiatrist would probably say it was because of my dad and he’d probably be right. My dad always worked and worked and worked to support a family of 5 kids. Being the oldest boy, I usually had a spanking coming for one of our offenses and mainly my transgressions.
It wasn’t until my early 20’s that this flaw was pointed out to me by a sage of a man named George Theobald. I worked with George at ARCO Chemical in Channelview. He became a mentor to me and was wise beyond his 40 plus years. “Your problem is you resent authority, Bert. If you could ever conquer that, you will be a lot happier man.”
George was a farrier on the side, shoeing horses and opened a feed store up Highway 90 way and I lost contact with him. I wish I could meet up with him again and thank him for the influence he had on my life.
My dad is no longer with us and he’s another I should have expressed gratitude to. Sometimes those who are closest to us are the hardest ones to share our innermost feelings. My dad was not an affectionate man by today’s standards, but I never doubted he loved me or cared about my future. He was a product of his own dad and that meant never letting up on his expectations of me, often using ridicule to try to force me forward.
It sounds horribly incorrect by today’s standards, but like I said, even though I didn’t like it, I never doubted his love for me and our family. I think I was about 45 the first time I remember hearing him say he loved me. It was quite a shock, but not overly uncommon from his generation I’ve learned. Dad taught my siblings and me many valuable skills and lessons and it was done by example. It was years later that I realized the depth of his instruction. Maybe that is why I am drawn to being an instructor in a number of disciplines like Bible studies, Hunter education, Martial arts, or my latest Indoor cycling.
My mom is still the guiding hand of the family, even in her 80’s. My youngest brother never fails to amaze me with his ability to properly decipher any situation. He is the Perry Mason of the family and I learn something from him every time we chat.
Throughout my past are literally hundreds of people who have helped me change direction and it would be mind-bending to attempt to track them down. Some spoke to me and offered their opinion. Other times I heard them speak and decided to adopt that line of thought. Here is the summation of this week’s column; you never know when you will meet one of these good folks, so try to latch onto them. Let them know what they are saying is important and right then thank them.
Tomorrow may be too late.