“I want her here” were the last audible words I heard from my father as he told my younger sister he wanted me to come home. I was on the other end of the phone telling him, “I’ll be home soon, in a few short days.” Less than 24 hours later, my older sister called to tell me “Daddy is transitioning.”
I pulled it together and flew home immediately. As he lived out his final hours, I got home to see him, talk to him and sit with him, alongside my mother, niece and siblings.
This is our first Father’s Day without him. As I reflect on those final words, I do not linger on his absence but remember a few specific expressions he spoke throughout our lives that still live on in our hearts and will impact us for years to come:
Pick up your chips where you chop your wood
Our parents were tireless entrepreneurs. They were part of a small community of Hilton Head Island native who stepped out of faith, took risks and made the best of what they had. In their restaurant business, they hired residents and engaged local vendors such as fishermen, resident farmers, students, and church members. They believed in doing business with those who did business with them.
Guiding Principle: Support your local community.
It’s as plain as the nose on your face
These words make me smile because it was often the North Star for discipline and instruction. Daddy was very straight forward. When we were young, he laid out his expectations for us as a family, for our schooling or for any other important endeavor. His words were direct, concise and straight to the point. Once we parted from his presence and he closed with these final words, we had to rise to or exceed his expectations.
Guiding Principle: Get your facts clear for any endeavor you pursue.
Be on time and don’t waste time.
Daddy was stickler about being on time, whether we had to work in the family business or go to church. He rose early and worked late. He expected that of us as well. In business, his belief was you need to be ready to serve others. Doing that required being on time. He didn’t like being late and walking into a program late.
Guiding Principle: Time waits on no one. Rise early and get the job done.
Anybody can act ignorant
This is a statement we all remember vividly and each one of us can provide a unique example, especially around educational pursuits both in and out of the classroom. He wanted us to set our own bar, be curious and reach for our very best. When you don’t know something, ask questions and discover the answer through rigorous investigation.
Guiding Principle: Stay away from a herd mentality and never blindly follow a crowd
These are just a few impactful nuggets from our father. I want to emphatically note that his final words do not quantify who he was and what he meant. If you’re without your father during this season, listen, share and take his words to heart. Remember the gift those words bring to you for they speak volumes about his life’s work and will be a legacy for many generations to come.