Dad taught me many things during our time together, more by his example than by words. Yet there is one thing he always said to me that really stuck, but which I have only recently fully taken to heart. He always told me that I can do anything I put my mind to. That advice sounds overly simplistic and obvious, but I now understand the weight it carries.
Dad often told me that when he was young, he wanted to be a writer. He was a brilliant man who could have achieved that dream with success, I think. Dad ultimately did not go that route, as other priorities came along. Having seven kids tends to do that. While he did not “put his mind to” becoming a writer, he did put his mind to being the best friend, father, Christian, and world traveler he could.
As a world traveler, he ventured to every continent except that icy one. He and Mom even braved remote Paraguay in South America to visit my new wife and me when we were serving in the Peace Corps. No other Peace Corps parents did that during my time in that remote part of the world. But mine did. Dad and Mom did amazing things like that for their kids.
As a Christian, well, there is no one I can compare to Dad. He was a true prince and soldier for Christ: not an angry, negative, or sinful bone in his body. I never even heard him curse over my half-century with him. Well, except for one curse word. He did use the F-word a lot…Fiddlesticks.
Similarly, as a friend, I can only say that I have not, nor will I ever, meet a man who made more friends in a lifetime than Dad. The extent of his friendships spanned not just his personal life but his career.
Dad was the owner, operator…everything…for The Borne Company in Covington, Kentucky. Above all, he was the firm’s lead salesman. I am certain that Dad had one unique rule about sales, which was: Never sell a man something until you first make him your friend.
We used to marvel at the fact that we could not go anywhere with Dad without him running into at least one friend. Pick any remote corner of the Cincinnati Metro area, and “Poof!” there was a friend of Dad’s to greet him, followed by Dad proudly introducing whatever kid(s) he had in tow.
Those are the things Dad “put his mind to” throughout his life: friend, father, Christian, and world traveler. He leaves an unshakable legacy in each area.
I have only recently come to fully grasp Dad’s simple wisdom. Like my Dad, I have always wanted to be a writer…a chip off the old block, I suppose. I only recently started putting my mind to it and going after this dream of mine.
To Dad’s advice I would add one thing: Don’t wait until it is too late. The longer we wait to begin our dream, the more likely regret tends to creep in.
So, Dad, you were right. We can do anything we put our mind to. I know that now, and I say with bitter sweetness that my first book comes out tomorrow. I didn’t quite get it done in time for you to read it. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that some angel has already handed you an advance copy to read. I hope so.
Thanks for everything, Dad. You are already sorely missed.
To anyone reading this, take Dad’s advice. We really can do anything we put our mind to. With enough focus, determination, and grit, anything is possible. Just don’t put it off for so long that someone misses your gift.
Feel free to share this with anyone who needs to hear this message: Don’t put off your dreams! Someone important, or someone you don’t even know, might miss your gift.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ ~ Matthew 25:21