When we were about eighteen, my cousin John and I went to Shaver Lake to go camping with a couple of friends. One friend's dad had a camper truck that served as our base for three days in a remote campsite on the far side of the lake.
As we were leaving camp one afternoon to go into town, my view of my own dad and my life changed forever.
We all piled into the camper with our friend's dad driving. Our plan was to go get supplies for dinner. I was in the front seat on the passenger side, with the window rolled down.
Just for perspective, this was way before cell phones, and we were some distance from town.
We slowly drove through the campground, and on the right up ahead was a car with its hood up. As we went by, the owner of the car asked if we had jumper cables.
I looked inquiringly towards my friend's dad. He replied to the man out my window, "Naw, sorry," and we passed by.
A few minutes later, as we edged out onto the main road, the dad spoke again and said something I never forgot. "I do have jumper cables, but if you stop, the next thing you know they'll want you to rebuild their engine."
I felt as if I'd been slapped across the face. My dad would
never have done that. Ever. And I knew that in a way I had never fully appreciated before.
My dad always helped people in need, whether he knew them or not. I watched as he left to pick up family or friends at the airport in the rain. He loaned money, pitched in, and was there for everyone in the family and everyone else too.
And that has become pretty much a credo in my own life, because of my dad. He wasn't perfect, and neither am I, but he knew why he was here, and so do I, thanks in large part to him.
My wife is that way, and my sister and our son John is too. The night after Thanksgiving, he drove out to the grapevine to help a friend, whose car was dead. It's just who he is.
Thanks, Dad, for setting that example.