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By Mac Bledsoe

Yesterday, Barbara and I had a wonderful experience that began our New Year on such a great note that we want to share it.   Following a late morning appointment we stopped for breakfast at a local restaurant. The most cheerful gentleman waited us on. While making the usual small talk he mentioned that as soon as he got off work at the restaurant he was going to his second job as a meat cutter at the local grocery store. The fellow looked about my age so I said, “Wow, you must be putting a kid or two through college!”

His answer brought tears to our eyes! “I have seven kids… but only two still at home! Five are out on their own and supporting themselves and the two at home are in college now. Won’t be too long before I won’t need to work two jobs!” The key is that he said all of this with a smile!

I said, “Wow, what a sacrifice!”

In his answer we found an ace we could keep. He said, “It has been worth every minute of the work. All of our kids are fantastic adults. One is a painter at the Chevrolet dealership in Whitefish, another has a construction business in Delaware, another is a teacher, and another is a Doctor! That fifth one was amazing,” he said. “She had bad grades all through school but then one day she said she was going to become a doctor. She went to work, brought her grades up went to med school and now she is a doctor! The last two are in college and it looks like we got lucky, all are going to turn out all right!”

“Sir, there is very little luck involved in how your kids turned out", I responded. It was not an accident. The sacrifices you made on their behalf and the obvious work ethic you taught them is the reason that they turned out to be fine adults!”

This hard working man clearly was a living lesson for his kids. Yes, he worked two jobs but he did it gladly and cheerfully. He obviously taught his kids to be their own miracles. None of them could wait for luck or good fortune to land on their doorstep. Each would become what they chose to become and get just about what they worked for. It was interesting to us to note that this loving father did not seem to place any more or less value or pride in the various professions of his kids. He was obviously equally proud of the unique accomplishments of each child.

Another lesson he seemed to be teaching us was that parents must never give up on kids. Keep teaching them and eventually they will get the message. The daughter with the poorest track record in early school eventually went the furthest with formal education. As he put it, “I just never gave up in believing in her! I knew that someday she would find her dream.”

As he talked of his kids his eyes filled with tears and his permanent smile just got bigger. That is a man who will probably go to his grave with little of material value to show for all of his long hours of work… but he will go to his grave a rich, rich man! He was important in the lives of his children. He delights in the really important things in life; his kids and his family!

So why do I share this experience about this simple, loving, hardworking man with you parents? Because his life is a living lesson that loving, teaching, supporting, and believing in your kids is a wonderful way to find real meaning in life! I believe that parents who focus on the positive in their children while continuing to teach, teach, teach by word and example will find their days filled with a lot more joy and a lot less stress. When it is all said and done, about the only footprint any of us will leave on the world will lie in what we have taught to children.



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