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Don't Forget to be Happy

Monday, June 27, 2011

I just responded to a post on one of my teams. The team leader was asking what we did to stay positive. I liked my answer well enough to share it as a blog.

My Dad is my role model for a positive attitude.

He was born in 1913.

He remembers the great flu epidemic of 1918. The whole family got sick, but they all survived.

His older brother drowned in the Mississippi River when my Dad was about 16. Because the family was poor, my Dad had to drop out of high school after the tragedy and go to work. He was happy to be strong and healthy and able to find work.

He survived the Great Depression. He worked for a while in a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in northern Minnesota. He says he enjoyed it. They fed him well and he earned money to send home to his mother and younger siblings.

He survived World War II. He was in the Signal Corps, and he says that kept him alive. The radio boys weren't the first ones ashore in the South Pacific, so fewer of them got shot. He was proud of being a soldier, and he met my Mom in New Zealand during the war, so he is always positive about his war experience.

He did factory work, supported my mother and 4 kids. My mother went through college with my Dad's support, and he was immensely proud of her. He taught me that I could accomplish anything with hard work and education.

After retiring from his factory job, my Dad worked another 10 years as a cook at a church operated day care center. He loved cooking, and loved the little kids.

My Dad is 97 now. He forgets what day it is, but remembers his long life with happiness. He enjoys the VA home he's in. He says they feed him well, and the bed is soft, what more could he want.

Any time I get discouraged I think of my Dad, and all that he was able to overcome and accomplish and survive. I'm going to keep working hard, and stay happy.

Billy Collins wrote a wonderful poem about forgetfulness that I'm going to share today. It makes me think of my Dad, too.


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses good-bye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of you spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    great post.. your dad reminds me of mine.. when i ask my dad how he is, he says "i like life", he also had great struggles much like your dad... we should be so thankful for these wonderful men
    2127 days ago
    Thanks for a wonderful blog. I am married to Len who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and small vessel ischemic dementia about 2-3 years ago. I still work but one of these days I probably will have to retire to be home with him. I was told 2-3 years ago he probably would be in a nursing home by now. He has many stories to tell but has certain ones he tells over and over and when I tell him I have heard one of them, he announces that he is being "redundant again." I should let him tell me as there could be a lesson there (especially about patience). The poem is especially nice and I should put a copy on my fridge and one on my desk at work.

    Lately I have been having some minor difficulty with my memory and it is very frustrating to know that you know something but are unable to "spit it out." emoticon
    2254 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/23/2012 9:21:59 AM
    Yes, I need to work on this!

    2366 days ago
    What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. He sounds like such a good, nice person. Like you.
    2452 days ago
  • BILLB000
    I have never been a big fan of Billy Collins but you are helping me warm up to him! I love this poem. Thank you for sharing and for sharing the story of your father.
    2470 days ago
    Ahhh, that's beautiful. I'd love to give your dad a big hug - just for being him! so give him one for me :D and here's one for you too! Thank you for my nice soup - made me feel much improved... I made a huge saucepanful last night and enjoyed it greatly. Billy Collins is perfection too. What a great way to start my morning! Have a wonderfully happy and healthy day!
    2478 days ago
    Thank you for another wonderful poem, and for the fabulous portrait of your dad. I think you inherited his positive outlook on life.
    2481 days ago
    i love the poetry you add to our lives --- thank u thank u
    2481 days ago
    What a powerful legacy. You are so very blessed.
    2482 days ago
    I am always 'Happy' ! emoticon
    2493 days ago
    How fortunate you are to have such a father! Thanks for sharing his story and his inspirational spirit with us.

    2493 days ago
    Thank for telling us about your wonderful father. That is a beautiful poem! The best memories are the last to go I hope.
    2494 days ago
    Your love and admiration for your father are a beacon!!

    Love the poem . . . fun and true.

    And: I'm going to remember to be happy. I've got lots to be happy about.
    2494 days ago
    Mom and dad were perfect for each other. She was restless, full of longing, and her quest for adventure and thirst for knowledge were never sated. He had the ability to find pleasure in the process and not just the product. He could find contenment in all things. He willingly gave her the space that she so needed to fly, and knowing that he always would, kept her grounded.
    He is loved by all the staff at the VA for his positive and cheerful manner. What a great example we have had! The poem is terrific as always!
    2494 days ago
    That's so lovely!
    2494 days ago
    Your dad sounds cool. I have enjoyed hearing over the years the stories about him.
    2494 days ago
    Great verbal picture of your Dad. You capture his hardworking, cheerful nature and eventful life nicely. Loved the poem by - what was that guy's name, anyway??
    2494 days ago
    2494 days ago
    I am taken by the story of your father, and furthermore, you the daughter doing the telling of the story and feeling so positive. Not always easy, the father/daughter thing, but very beautiful when it exists in such a light as you have shared with us. Thank you.
    2494 days ago
    Wonderful blog and how nice that you have had so many years of blessings with your dad. What a legacy!
    2494 days ago
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