Hidden messages give life lesson on integrity

Published 3:24 pm Friday, August 7, 2020


Community columnist

Recently, I made the decision to do a remodel update on my house. Since the only thing tighter than my waistband is my wallet, I decided to do a lot of the work myself.

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It has been an adventure for sure. So much so that the folks at the home improvement store are on a first name basis with me and give me a look of sympathy when I walk through the door.  

My father was a carpenter by trade for most of his life. After I graduated high school, I worked with him to earn some extra money, so I felt like I had acquired enough skills to handle my own remodeling job. 

When doing my remodel now, I found myself being very precise with the measurements to have an exact fit. I began to chuckle aloud when I remembered back to those days working with my father so long ago and how confused I would become trying to figure out the units of measurements he would use. 

I came prepared for the job with my knowledge of geometry that I had learned in school. I knew all about how angles fit together and how to work the formulas to get an exact fit. 

However, imagine my confusion when my dad used none of that. In fact, he would hand me a piece of wood and instead of a measurement, he would say, “Cut that piece off a tad.” Eager to do a good job, I can remember looking at the tape measure for 15 minutes and I couldn’t find tad anywhere on the ruler. 

Later on when nailing the board I was holding he would say, “Come this way just a smidgen.” I had no idea how much that was and when I moved the board too far, he would say, “That’s too much. Pull it back towards you just a pinch.” I suspect that he was having a good laugh inside watching me try to figure it all out. 

I remember some good life lessons were learned during those days as well. My dad was not a man of many words but had no trouble getting his point across. For example, I was at a crossroads at that time in my life and was trying to figure out where my life was going. It was then that he explained to me while on the job site a message that once decoded helped me for the rest of my life. 

He knew that if he tried to tell me what to do that I would likely just blow it off and not listen. He didn’t speak about life directly; instead, he spoke pretending to be talking about construction and told me how we should never take shortcuts.

It didn’t matter if the job was hidden behind a wall or under a floor and would never be seen by another person, it was important to do the right thing and to always have a good name as an honest and dependable person.

Don’t do things to impress someone else, do them because it’s the right thing to do. 

I never forgot that lesson and have tried to remember those wise words from my father anytime I am at a crossroads and need direction.

I think back to that speech and remember my father standing there pretending to nail a board giving me a lesson about life and as he looked at me over the top of his glasses he would ask, “You understand what I’m trying to say?” 

Yes, I understand Dad. I finally understand.