Years ago I lived with a Cave Man. This Cave Man was my dad. He wrote for the local newspaper with a column called “My Cave, My View.” In it he would write the humorous moments that existed or happened in our family. He would write about our dog Turbo, or his Too Kind and Loving Wife. He would write about his best friend Bubba. He would write about his kids. He used to call me Black Number 10. To this day if I were to walk around town people would call me by that name.
If you want to read his collection of his best columns you can check it out here.
Through nearly ten years of columns he won numerous awards for his writing. He would receive letters from people all over the country telling him how much they enjoyed his articles. Through all of this people came to believe that they knew my father. They thought that he was “the Cave Man” he pretended to be. In reality he was not like the cave man at all.
Each of us has a Father. I have a wonderful father that has been my idol for my entire life. I have learned endless lessons from him. I have spent time with him as a kid and now as an adult. I’m not sure at what point in my life I have learned more from him. Here are four lessons I have learned from a cave man.
First – Hard work will always pay off. He tells me stories of when he went to college. Played the trumpet for the university band to pay for school, worked 40 hours a week, studied and went to classes. He has never had any handouts in his life. He tells me stories of his youth and how he had to work for and pay for his first car.
He has encouraged me to worked hard in everything that I have done. In football, basketball, school or at home. The classic story is that at one point in our life we were redoing our backyard. He needed to level the ground before we laid the grass. He thought it would be good idea to have a wooden crate, put a few cinderblocks on it and tie me to a rope and have me pull it back and forth along the ground. I don’t know what child labor laws they had but I worked hard for him. Hard work always pays off.
Second – Reading will always pay off. My dad is the type of person that devours books. He sits and reads them and in about a day and a half-then he is finished. I don’t know how he does it! He reads quickly, and he comprehends all that he reads. I never really loved to read in school. But I would always catch him sitting in his room with a book up. He has a collection of books in our house that is so large my mom makes him store about half of them. In fact I am named after his favorite author.
Because he is constantly reading he always has something witty to say. He is full of one liner quotes that he is sending to me. To this day I get emails from him with quotes about leadership, faith, fatherhood or education. He is the type that has a deep well of knowledge and wisdom and is always willing to share it with his children. Reading always pays off.
Third – Education will pay off. He was the first person in his family to go to college. The first one to graduate from college. The first one to have a steady, paying job because of that eduction. He encouraged my mom to get her masters degree. He has always talked to me like “when you go to college.” It was always an expectation. It never was a “if you want to go to college.”
After my two year mission I came home and he sat me down. We were in a hotel room in Paris. He talked to me about my future. What I was going to study. How an education would change how I could take care of my family. He talked to me about the sacrifices he had to make in order to finish his education. He talked to me about the expectations he had of his kids. Especially his sons. He told me that he had made sacrifices, worked for years in order to give me opportunities that he never had. I remember him saying that he wanted to give me the chance to be a doctor or a lawyer. He didn’t want me to just go back home and get a job. I took that talk and it never left me. 8 years later I graduated with my doctorate and there he was, front row watching and cheering for me as I received my degree. Education always pays off.
Fourth – Kindness will pay off. I have never known my dad to have an enemy. Never known any one who is upset with him or get angry with him. I’ve never seen my dad lash out in anger towards someone. My dad is kind to everyone he meets. He has a way to flatter and make people feel like they are the most important person in the world.
One Thanksgiving my dad invited someone that he had met that same day to eat thanksgiving dinner with us. I can’t remember the circumstances exactly. But the guy had done some work for my dad or was going to do some work for him. When he talked with the man my dad found out that he didn’t have anywhere to be for thanksgiving and so my dad invited him over. I found his out because my dad sent me to go and pick this man up. The instructions from my dad was “go over to the house, he should be waiting for you. Make sure he gets in the car and comes to thanksgiving. Don’t take no for an answer.” Over I went, found the man, put him in the car and an hour later he was eating with us. Kindness always pays off.
I could go on about the lessons I’ve learned from my dad. He has alway been my hero. He always will be. We would, however, make fun of him and we were growing up for being weird and having his quirks.
He would wear running shoes for every occasion. Running shoes and jeans, Running shoes and slacks. The rare occasion that he wore sandals he always wore socks with them. He would wear black shoes and a brown belt. The same brown belt that he had for 30 years. He would always tell us to “scrape it, rinse it and put it in the dishwasher.” Then we would find his plate sitting on the table. He would sing to “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera” or “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” as loud as he could. He would hang around the kitchen and pick at the food long before dinner was ready. Then he would get mad at us for coming in and trying to sneak some food.
The Cave Man has taught me countless lessons. He helped me learn to ride a bike. Run a sub 5 minute mile. Throw a football. Drive a stick shift old beater truck. Shoot a gun. Lay tile, carpet, hang sheetrock, mow the lawn. He taught me to invest my money, pay tithing, and save for a rainy day. He taught me to camp, build a fire, cook with a dutch oven and put up a tent. He taught me to chop wood, use a knife and use a table saw.
When I was about 16 my dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was one of the hardest moments of his life. He had just recently watched his Father pass away from cancer and now he just got diagnosed with it. I’ll never forget what I learned from him during those months. That hope can carry you a long ways. That love is stronger than death. That faith in Christ can lift you above mountains, pull you out of sink hole and rise you over the depressions of life. He taught me that determination is more in our mind and spirit than in our bodies.
My dad has been there for me when I lost the last game of the junior jazz basketball game. He was there for me when we beat Blanding three years in a row in football. He was there for me when I lost the state championship football game. He was there for me when we lost the mud bowl Junior year when I got put in the last two minutes and drove the team 80 yards to score a touchdown to only miss the two points conversion and lose. He was there for me when I left for my mission and he picked up so I could come home. He was there at my wedding. He was there at the birth of my first child, and second child and third child. He was there when I graduated High school, College and Dental School. He was there when I graduated from my Naval Officer Development School in Rhode Island.
In a few weeks we are going to climb mount Fuji together. It seems only fitting that we are climbing a mountain because a Cave Man lives in a mountain. This Cave Man, my dad, has taught me to climb the mountains of life. Has shown me what it is like to be on top of the world with a family that loves you, with wonderful kids and a beautiful wife. That is what life is all about. That is what my dad taught me more than anything. Life is about love.
Love you Dad.