Dallas Power & Light crew and truck.
(My dad: 2nd man from the right)
Life often surprises us with unexpected treasures, my dad showed up for me a few days ago. I was searching through old files trying to find the address of my parents’ home in the Denton county area. I didn’t find it, but what I did find astounded me.
In a ragged, old cardboard box there was a yellowed envelope with my handwriting on the front saying, Daddy gave this to me after Bill died in 1977. I opened it and pulled out two typed pages and looking quickly to the end I saw daddy had signed it Homer. I’m sure I read it then, but I have no memory of it. It was his way of telling me when you fall you get up and do the best you can, of showing me how to keep living, and how to move forward through grief.
Before I share his words, you’ll understand better if you know a little about my dad. Born in 1910, he grew up on a farm where cotton and peanuts were the main crops. When my parents married in the middle of the Great Depression, they moved to Dallas and dad found a job delivering ice to people’s homes, not very exciting, but it paid the bills. His next job was climbing poles and installing or repairing electric lines for Dallas Power & Light Company where he worked for many years until he was struck by lightning, but that’s another story for another time!
He did physical work all his life and took responsibilities seriously. He taught me a great respect for authority, but that too is another story, so I’ll just say that “as long as my feet were under his dinner table” I had to obey his rules. He also taught me that there was nothing a man could do that a woman could not if she put her mind and determination to it—except for lifting very heavy things! I don’t think this was the norm back in the thirties and forties.
Now this was a man who finished high school, but never graced the doors of a college. This was the man who had tears running down his face when I graduated from college. This was a man who was always reading while I was growing up, after all, television wasn’t around then. This was the man who gave me a dictionary for my tenth birthday.
When dad was walking me down the aisle of the church to be married, this hard-working man of few words whispered, “Remember you can always come home.” The first time I called him after I was married and asked for his help on repairing something, he told me to ask my husband, that I was married now. And I said, “But daddy, he doesn’t know how to fix this.” He quietly told me to have my husband call him.
How I wish I had found and read this when I was not buried in grief and could talk to him about it. Now I see a profound thinker, a lover of words, and perhaps even a writer who never had the opportunity to follow his heart. And I never knew … my tears are flowing now.
So, here are the words of my philosopher dad as he once again assumes responsibility for his widowed daughter while she is plowing her way through the paperwork death requires, decisions about keeping or selling their home, keeping or selling their advertising agency and building, in other words, how to move forward when the world falls apart at 42 years old, all decisions no one in the middle of life should ever have to make …
No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being in a great cause. –Theodore Roosevelt
It is the tragedy of things spiritual that they languish if unorganized and are contaminated by the material needs of this organization. –Will Durant
Always tell yourself: the difference between running a business and ruining a business is I. – Anonymous
By every part of our nature we clasp things above us, one after another, not for the sake of remaining where we take hold, but that we may go higher. –H. W. Beecher
It is not for man to rest in absolute contentment. He is born to hopes and aspirations. –Robert Southey
A purpose is the eternal condition of success. – Theodore T. Munger
Though a little one, the masterword (work) looms large in meaning. It is the open sesame to every mortal, the great equalizer in the world, the true philosophers’ stone which transmutes all the base metal of humanity into gold. –William Osler
The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream. – William Shakespeare
He who is not liberal with what he has does not deceive himself when he thinks he would be if he had more. – William S. Plumer
We should look to the end in all things. –Homer E. Hayes
(Dad hid one of his own ideas in the middle.)
Life is eating us up. We shall be fables presently. Keep cool: it will be all one a hundred years hence. Ralph Waldo Emerson
We sometimes from dreams pick up some hint worth improving … by reflection. –Thomas Jefferson
The beginnings of all things are weak and tender. We must therefore be clear-sighted in the beginnings, for, as in their budding we discern not the danger, so in their full grown we perceive not the remedy. –Michel DeMontaigne
Ambition is an idol on whose wings great minds are carried to extremes, to be sublimely great, or to be nothing. –Shakti Gawain
We are in the world like men playing at tables; the chance is not in our power, but to play it is: and when it is fallen, we must manage it as we can. – Jeremy Taylor, Lord Bishop of Down and Connor
I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. – Mahatma Gandhi
The fundamental principle of human action … is that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion. – Henry George
Is every effort you put forth part of a large life scheme? Does every brick you lay contribute to the building of a structure whose plans you keep constantly in your mind’s eye? …Thank heavens the material for building air castles has not gone up in price! And the man or woman – especially the young man or woman – who has lost the ambition and the energy to build one is in a pitiable state indeed. Consider the end from the beginning. That, it seems to me, sums up the whole thing. – Bertie Charles Forbes
I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. –Albert Schweitzer
I like men who have a future and women who have a past. –Oscar Wilde
But by the grace of God I am what I am. –1 Corinthians 15:10
Daddy merely signed it: Homer.
I have a multitude of questions — where did my dad learn these? There was never extra money for books so did he secretly spend time at the library reading or did he learn these from the newspaper of which he was an avid reader. Could he have remembered these from high school? Did he have all these memorized or did he have a photographic memory?
I look back to childhood and I see clues in the way I grew up, I see in each of the quotes how dad lived his life and how he taught me.
I hear him saying — we all fall sometime or another, but it’s all about getting up and what you do when you get up.
I am astounded he showed up for me right now, I needed his counsel. I’m grateful for an incredible dad, and I’m grateful for the reminder it isn’t all up to me, it is only by the grace of God.
Thank you, Dad, Homer E. Hayes