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One Fatherís Words


"Now, I donít want you to worry about me. I will get over this as I have survived everything else. But just in case something unexpected should happen to me, I want you to take charge. Donít let the family dwell upon it. Time and life go on. I have been fortunate to be able to live my life as a lion. Two weeks of that is worth a lifetime as a lamb.

"I chose to keep our family in Brenham and Texas, rather than going to other places and trying new opportunities. That might have been more profitable, but Brenham still holds the values that first brought your great grandfather to this state almost 100 years ago. Some of these values will change, but most will remain t he same as they have throughout history. It is important to remember that no matter how they try in Congress, they cannot repeat the law of gravity. Godís lawís and natural laws are the ultimate power in this world. Some people may only discover them after a lifetime, but they do exist. Recognizing them is critical.

"The most important thing I can leave you is a good name, and I think I have done that. Your mother and I have worked and saved a long time to create this beginning for you and your sister. Home has always been the most important part of our lives and should be of yours. We hope we have taught you the importance of your values and passed along our heritage. You have an education that will help you achieve what is really important in lifeóbeing a responsible citizen, loving husband, and sensitive father. There may be more to living, but these three areas can make your life deeply satisfying.

"What I feel I will be leaving you is an opportunityóa start from which you can make your own mark. The time that we spend on earth is relatively small in comparison with the great movement of history. All we can do within our life span is to make the world better than it was when we first arrived. All fortunes eventually are dispersed, but the ideas and values that you leave to society can live forever. I hope you and Kitty will have a wonderful family, just as your mother and I had with you and Deanna. Being a good Father is your greatest challenge and responsibility. Teach your children the ideas you think are proper. Give them the best values that you can. And teach them how to judge what is best for their lives and nation. We must try to make every generationís character better than the one before it and build a higher standard of living through wise policies.

"Donít underestimate the power and value of ideas, politics, and money. But never let any of these be your God. Learn to acquire and use them, but make absolutely certain that you understand the purposes for which they are being used

"Lots of things have changed in Texas since I was a young man, and they will continue to change even faster during the next 20 years as your generation assumes leadership. You will need to keep a clear sense of whatís important. I remember hearing how my dad came to Texas from Germany. Whenever a family suffered a bad harvest or business disaster, their neighbors helped them out until they were able to get on their feet again. Now it seems that everyone is out for his own piece of the pie regardless of who else starves. There is still charity, but people are sometimes too busy to hear their consciences. Too often even charity itself is commercialized; but if a dime out of each dollar reaches the needy, it is worth our efforts.

"Life is already different from a few years ago. Iím worried about the way politics is changing. People donít know their leaders personally. They donít seem to have the same respect as they did in my day for the ideas that made America strong. Texas can have great impact on our country. But as Texans, we can either mature and bring our ideas to other Americans, or we can create a petty state that will be defeated by partnership. If that happens, we will make little difference.

"I have hope that you and other young people can understand the changes occurring in politics and economics and how they effect you. Then youíll be able to handle them. In the process, Youíll turn Texas and America in a more positive direction again.

"Remember to associate with people who care more about whether they go to heaven or hell then whether they become governor of Texas or head of a company. Ambition can be your worst enemy. Often you are not a good leader until you have lost your ambition and come face to face with what is most important in life. Guard against both ambition and pride, or in the long run you will be a loser, perhaps not in appearance, but in reality. You will have to deal with all types of people in life. Some will be genuine and others will not. It will be hard to judge them until you have had experience with them. Do not hesitate to cultivate friendships because that is what makes life enjoyable. However, watch new acquaintances for a while before giving them your trust.

"One certainty in life is that you are not always on top. There are many people who try to avoid the falls by changing philosophies. These are people of convenience. Theyíre often successful in the short term, while they are on earth. But I have always wondered whether they were successful in the sense of eternity. I feel following conscience is a far better guide.

"Remember to judge people on their merit and not by their possessions or jobs. People should be judged by how they use their success rather than by how much they acquire. There is a difference between self-respect and pride. Just as there will always be differences in abilities and destinies, there always will be economic distinctions. But we have a responsibility to allow people to keep their self-respect. Your grandfather taught this to me early in life when he took me to his wholesale grocery. The Depression made life in Texas very tough, and few people made money. Everyone helped his neighbors and enjoyed closeness and cooperation. Your grandfather and I would slit open sacks of flour and spend what seemed to be a lifetime trying to crack, not break some eggs. I thought this was one of the most foolish things I had ever seen and could not understand why he would ruin good merchandise at a time when everyone was losing money.

"So he sat down with me, and we had a conversation I will always remember. He said his employees had helped him build the business. They had gone through many long years together to make the business a success. They all knew they couldnít keep them on, but my dad felt he had a responsibility to help. Dad said, `If you offer these people money for doing nothing, some of them would not take it because they would lose their self-respect. Those who would accept the money would suffer equally from a loss of inner strength.í So, I watched with admiration as my father offered damaged goods to his former employees in exchange for helping help him move the merchandise.

"The older you become, the more youíll recognize the importance of finding a purpose in life. But first you need to learn about reality. Emotion more than thought rules your life when you are a child. Ambition and ego guide your conscience more than responsibility. As your maturity and responsibility develop, youíll think about morality. Your thoughts will reach a deeper level of understanding. You will discover that God gave you freedom of choice in how you live your life. The most important thing you can do is to find a sense of love and oneness with God and other people. I became a better person when I learned the lessons of stewardship and how to deal with others by reading the Bible. In that way, I found my own meaning for life. You will go through a similar process as you question why you were put on this earth.

"The rule of the world is not just to take from life, but to put something back. We all have responsibilities, although sometimes we would like to ignore them, especially the difficult ones. Some men can affect very little, but they still have the responsibility to do what they can in a positive way. I have tried to do that. On occasions I have been right, and on others Iíve been wrong. When I was wrong, I was able to admit it. Ay least God knew my motives. That makes the later times of life, like these, a lot more satisfying.

"There are many things you can learn from the Bible. The parable of the talents teaches you that all of us are judged by what we do with our resources. The more ability you are given, the more is expected of you. God has given you a number of abilities. Please donít waste them."

. . . . . . . .

It was hard for me to accept that my father was dying.

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