Father’s Day 2013: An American Dad

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2013
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

One father is more than one hundred schoolmasters. George Herbert

For the past few days, I have been thinking about my dad. He was and is a powerful influence in my life.
Dad Kens graduation

My father wasn’t rich, famous or powerful.  Like his father he worked on the railroad, a job he loved.

He was a good, decent and honorable man. He lived a quiet life close to home doing what he had to do to care for his wife and three children.  His world was centered in his family, his church and his work.

He was a quiet, unimposing man who expected little and gave much. His most attractive feature was a beautiful smile that radiated goodness.

His greatest accomplishment was a lifetime of sacrifice so that my brother, my sister and I could get an education.

The most defining moment I had with my father happened about a month before he died. While he and my mother were visiting the University of Iowa campus, he took me aside, and he shared these words, “I didn’t graduate from high school, but what you, your brother and sister have accomplished, I feel like I graduated from college.”

To honor his memory on Father’s Day, I would like to share my fondest recollections of my dad.

1. He was kind. He lived the words of William Wordsworth:

That best portion of a good man’s life; His little, nameless,Mom & Dad-1_250 unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

2. He was industrious. He knew and practiced Edison’s three principles for success:

The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”

3. He loved my mother. In so doing, he modeled the words of Thomas Carlyle;

The soul gives unity to what it looks at with love.

4. He was a great conversationalist. He knew the value of Montaigne’s maxim:

The most fruitful and natural exercise for our minds is, in my opinion, conversation.

5. He was talented. He modeled the three rules of John Wooden for my brother, my sister and me in everything he did:

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

6. He had a beautiful smile. Byron’s words best describe my dad’s smile:

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. Dad stp_250

Be the evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.

7. He sacrificed everything for the three children he loved. He agreed with Henry Ward Beecher:

It is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.

8. He never complained. He lived his life for his family and he taught us by example the importance of Einstein’s advice about life:

Only a life lived for others is a life worth living.

9. He personified humility and respect. The words of Laurence Sterne and Robert G. Ingersoll describe to my father:

Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.

He stands erect by bending over the fallen. He rises by lifting others.

10. He knew what was important in life. His life gives truth to the words of Robert Louis Stevenson:

To be rich in admiration and free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others, to love with such generosity of heart that your love is still a dear possession in absence or unkindness – these are the gifts which money cannot buy.

On this Father’s Day, I will follow the advice of Anne Sexton who wrote these words about her father:

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

As I connect with my father in the mirror of my memory, I will thank him for everything he did to give me the opportunities I have had in life. 

I will tell him again as I told him the day he crossed over to the other side and every day since, “I love you,” and I will rephrase the words of Helen Keller to celebrate the man who gave me help, guidance, discipline and the desire to make him proud of his son:

Whatever I have made of my life, it happened because I learned from you to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. You moved the world along for Ken, Mary Claire and me, not by mighty shoves, but by the tiny pushes of an honest worker, a devoted husband and a great father.

You and all the fathers like you have painted a magnificent picture of the Face of America on its best day, and we, your sons and daughters, are in your debt.

Happy Father’s Day

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