ON A table in my office, only a few feet from the edge of my desk, is a special lighthouse — crafted out of copper and created by my dad, Sam Osborne, when he was a teenager in the United States Navy in the late 1920s. It was always in my parents’ home from the time he was in the Navy until he passed away. The lighthouse is an enduring symbol, not only of my dad’s talent, but a “guiding light” in my own life.
DAD DIED in 2002 at the age of 92. Since mom had passed away eleven years earlier, the possessions in their home were left for my brother, Sam, and me to sort out. My brother chose dad’s extensive tool collection, which was fine with me. I probably wouldn’t have known what to do with them. Dad’s lighthouse and the table that I had made for mom when I attended Roosevelt, were about all that I wanted because both were important to me.
SINCE THAT day 19 years ago, the lighthouse and table have been in my office at the newspaper and I have glanced at them many times during those years — and thought about the guidance my parents gave me when I was growing up. Dad’s lighthouse was special to him all of his life because he created it during a time he was seeking a safe harbor for his life. SEEING dad’s lighthouse often reminds me of the lessons dad taught by example. Following are a few of the lessons that I saw my dad practice when I was a kid — and I never forgot them.
• My dad would never accept any money for using his mechanical skills in fixing items for others. If dad would have charged every time he fixed something for someone I would have been the son of a millionare. Instead, he left me something even more valuable — a lesson on using your God-given talents to help others because it is simply the right thing to do.
• My dad felt that anyone working for a company owed that company an honest day’s work — and the company owed that employee an honest day’s pay and treatment of respect. It was a pretty simple formula that worked his entire business life. • When my dad gave his word it was an ironclad contract — and I never saw him break it. That’s the way a lot of agreements were forged back then — sealed with a handshake. When my dad gave his word, it was as good as done.
• My dad went to work a lot of days when he wasn’t feeling well. When I was a kid, I could hear him shuffling down the hall as he was getting ready for work. Dad had to be very sick before he would miss a day of work.
• My dad always gave an honest answer to any question that he was asked, regardless of how that would make him look. I don’t think it ever occurred to him to lie about something. • My dad had little tolerance for people who talked “out of both sides of their mouth”. When I was a kid dad resigned from his dream job as vice president and general manager of a manufacturing company because the president (who was the majority stockholder in the corporation) refused to deal honestly with the employees in the shop.
• My dad never complained about his misfortunes, set-backs or infirmities brought on by advancing age. He accepted them and always tried to find a way to neutralize them and keep them from negatively affecting his perspective on life.
THE OLDER I get, the more I appreciate both my parents and what I learned from them — and still learn from remembering their examples. My wife and I are blessed with three great sons and I hope they’ve seen in me some of the lessons my father and mother taught me in my life.
Happy Father’s Day dad. Although you have not been physically present for many years, the lighthouse you made remains and continues to remind me of how you helped guide my ship of life to a safe port.
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Read Paul Osborne’s “Viewpoint” each week on page 3 of the print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune newspaper.