3 More Things My Dad Taught Me

He gave everything he had to make it to the National Senior Games, often called the Senior Olympics, one more time.

But when the Games opened, my dad was in a hospital, battling congestive heart failure. A little over a week later, he lost the battle.

He lived a full life, and he taught me a lot. Because he was a humble and quiet man, I learned mostly by observing his actions. A previous article (9 Important Things I Learned from My Dad) covered much of what he taught me.

Here are three more things I learned from him.

1. Take Care of People in the Workplace

Before he became an entrepreneur in his 50s, my dad worked in human resources, mostly for small manufacturing companies. He rarely talked about his job, and I always got the sense that he really didn’t enjoy it.

But he cared about the people with whom he worked. And he demonstrated that, one person at a time.

In the early 1960s, when my dad worked for a trucking company based in Akron, Ohio, he was charged with integrating an all-white office. My dad knew that the first African American hired into that office would face racism, both outspoken and unspoken, from some of the other employees, so my dad looked for a man with “broad shoulders.”

Even the strongest man would need support. After hiring a man named John, my dad gave John consistent, visible support in the workplace.

He also became John’s close friend. When the company was acquired, my dad left the firm and moved our family to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. We never lived in Akron again. But the friendship between my dad and John remained strong for decades.

In the late 1990s, my parents bought a small bookstore in the depressed city of Warren, Ohio. My dad left the corporate world and assumed HR duties – as well as a variety of other duties – for The Book Nook.

My dad wanted to store to grow and flourish. To do that, he needed to attract good employees and give them incentives to stay for a long time. His innovative approach was to tie each employee’s compensation to the success of the company. The more profits the company made in a year, the more money the employees pocketed at the end of that year. The Book Nook’s small workforce became a family.

Of course, employees are not the only stakeholders in a small retail store. For long-term success, you need to develop good relationships with everyone who interacts with the store: regular customers, suppliers, and even the community at large. As a result of my parents consistently investing in people, The Book Nook became one of the largest independent bookstores in Ohio.

2. Give Everyone a Chance

My dad’s extended family included an interesting cast of characters. One of them was the first husband of one of my dad’s three sisters. Uncle Dick, as we called him, was not a churchgoing man. As a father, his approach to disciplining his children was, shall we say, a bit less strict than my dad’s. Before my parents took over The Book Nook, Uncle Dick ran it, and the store was filled with “dirty” books and magazines.

My dad saw past Uncle Dick’s flaws and saw a man with a good heart.

A few years after my parents assumed control of The Book Nook, my dad started feeling ill. His belly hurt. With each passing day, it hurt more. He lost weight. Instead of playing tennis nearly every day, he reached the point where he couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time.

He saw a doctor. Then another. Then another. None could determine what was wrong. The treatments that they recommended, such as antibiotics, made things worse.

One day, my dad mentioned his illness to Uncle Dick. Dick suggested that my dad see a woman who was a “holistic healer.” She was not a doctor. But she thought she could help my dad.

He gave her a chance.

She asked him a bunch of questions about his diet (lots of sugar) and his medications (daily use of antibiotics for his skin). She told him what no doctor had: he had a yeast buildup in his digestive system. She put him on a strict diet that disallowed anything that could feed the yeast: sugar, fruit and fruit juices, breads and other baked goods, and many other foods that my dad enjoyed.

For a few months, the diet didn’t seem to make a difference. But my dad stuck with it. Slowly and steadily, his health improved.

Today, we know that my dad suffered from Candidiasis, a fungal infection caused by a yeast called Candida. We also know that my dad’s health improved because he gave everyone – including the types of people whom I tend to ignore or marginalize – a chance.

3. Honor Your Wife

My dad started dating my mom when she was in high school. Four years later, they got married. When my mom died in 2020, they had been together for 68 years. She was the only woman he ever loved. 

When I was growing up, my dad didn’t say or do much to indicate that he was madly in love with my mom. At times, he seemed to take her for granted.

After all four of us kids left the house, something changed. I don’t know the impetus for the change. Maybe it was the death of my dad’s parents. Maybe it was my dad’s struggle with Candidiasis or my mom’s fragile health because of her autoimmune condition.

Whatever the cause, my dad became the vocal leader of my mom’s fan club. He told anyone and everyone that she was the greatest woman in the world.

He meant every word. And he glorified God through those words.

Most of his life, my dad didn’t talk a lot about God. Even though he attended church, my dad had a lot of questions about God that no one at church seemed to be able to answer. My dad searched for answers in books and in conversations with other people, but the answers he got didn’t satisfy him. As a result, my dad’s faith in God wavered at times.

There was one thing about God that my dad knew for sure: God had brought my mom and dad together, and God had done this for the benefit of my dad.

In the last 20 years of his life, my dad told their love story… first to members of his family, and then to pretty much anyone who would listen. With each telling, my dad thanked God for bringing my mom into his life.

So do I.

And I thank God for giving me a dad who was a humble man of integrity.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/seb_ra 


Chris Bolinger is the author of three men’s devotionals – 52 Weeks of Strength for MenDaily Strength for Men, and Fuerzas para Cada Día para el Hombre – and the co-host of the Empowered Manhood podcast. He splits his time between northeast Ohio and southwest Florida. Against the advice of medical professionals, he remains a die-hard fan of Cleveland pro sports teams. Find him at mensdevotionals.com

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