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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lessons from My Uncle Jiggs

Have some folks who may do some occasional guest blogs for me you will meet along the way.  Today is one of those.  My uncle passed away yesterday, and my cousin, Leland, wrote a really powerful piece about his dad.  I asked him to share it on my blog, so it is below.  What is amazing is that, with a few variations here and there, he is actually describing his dad’s siblings as well, all part of that “greatest generation.”  I might suggest as you read it, that you consider what the list would be if your kids were writing about you especially if yours is now a single parent home, as is the case with many after divorce."  So, here is Leland’s blog, which you can also see at his blog address:  http://blog.speakerhardware.com/

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Things I learned from my Dad.

1. The inherent value and dignity of hard work. "Put your nose to the grindstone". Just get it done. He could work harder than any human I've ever seen. The house I grew up in he built. Somebody was coming the next day to install something, and it had to be sided. He and Mom sided the entire house in one day. Dad drove a 50lb keg of nails that day, Mom cut the lumber. He couldn't lift his arms the next day. 

2 Take the time from work to do something else. When Mom and Dad were in their late 50's early 60's they pretty much traveled the world. When we were kids we always loaded up in the car and drove around the US for 2 weeks. I'll be first to admit that this lesson I didn't learn well, but I'm "working on it". 

3. Honesty. I hope I learned this one well. 

4. Truth. Dad spoke the truth. Whether you wanted to hear it or not, no matter who you were. Never harshly, just truth. 

5. Love. Exemplified with Dad's care of Mom. Mom's parkinsons the last 3 years of her life left her immobile. Dad took care of all of it. He just about wouldn't let us help. Every night after she died Dad touched her picture before he went to bed. And in how he was the rock around which all of us revolved. When you had a problem, needed help, he was there. He and Mom were a love affair that lasted over 50 years. 

6. Entrepreneurship. Growing up in a hardware store, run by my parents was much like what you hear farm kids describing their lives. Everybody works, everybody shares responsibilities. I gave the corporate world a try for a while. I couldn't do it. Owing your own business is a dream for many. But the grunt hard grind it can be makes a "job" with benefits look pretty good sometimes. I know when I left Boeing for the hardware store Mom and Dad asked me several times if I was sure. 

Dad would come up with crazy ideas for the store, house, whatever. Mom would fix that with a "now Jiggs" and that was the end of it. But their instincts for business were almost unerring. They never got rich, but did put 3 kids through college with no debt and retired pretty well, and had long lives after.

7. Life. Going through this with first Mom, who's illness was protracted for a very long time, and now with Dad in a much shorter span has shown me something. Life is more powerful than anything. Yes, death gets us all, but the titanic struggle I have witnessed between my father and death, even though he wished it, convinces me that death wins, but death is not the winner. The life lived, the lives left behind, those are the winners. I recently read that physicists are coming to the conclusion that everything is just information. So conservation of energy and mass rules apply. If that's true, nothing is lost, the religions are right. The universe (heaven) is gained. Maybe not pearly gates, but maybe it is.

8. Respect. The biggest fear we all had was disappointing him. It was never mean, but you knew when he disapproved or was disappointed. He was such a figure of respect to everyone who knew him.

9. Don't take any of it too seriously. Seriously. :-)

10. How to do/fix/make stuff. Working with him was like working with a tornado. Fast and furious. You better be watching, because it's probably not going to get explained, just done. He about killed a couple of grandsons when in his 80's roofing the kennel building. Just like he about killed a couple of sons in his 60's roofing the house. We couldn't carry shingles fast enough. No nailers, 1-1/4 roofing nails, 1 hit to start, next to drive flush, every time.

G.S. "Jiggs" Crooks Aug 1 1921, Aug 21 2012.

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