Advice From My Father

With my dad at a Washington U. basketball game earlier this year. Photograph by Rick Budde

The best advice I can ever remember receiving came from my father.

I think I was probably about 14 or 15 years old, on the cusp of high school and all the changes that come with that transition. I have a mental image that he’s telling me this while he’s driving me someplace—we’re on Bompart Ave. in Webster Groves and it’s early evening—but that part of the memory could be just melded together from other events. Anyway, I do remember what he told me:

“Try to be involved in as many things as you can; the more you take part in, the more you’ll enjoy it.”

Simple advice, but profound and so true. He was talking about high school, but the advice applies to any time of life.

My dad has never been a big advice-giver. His style is more to set a good example for us to follow: whether building up his own small business through years of hard work; being a loving husband for more than 60 years; serving as a volunteer literacy tutor; always, himself, reading something of quality; or being involved in numerous other public-minded activities, he’s always led by doing, not by telling. And at nearly 92 years of age, he’s still going strong.

Still, that bit of advice sticks with me. I’ve tried to pass it along to my own sons, with limited success. And in fact, I didn’t always follow it as much as I wish, now, that I had. It’s still good advice though, and you can borrow it if you’d like.

To my father and to fathers everywhere, happy Father’s Day!

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