Lesson Learned

He shared the story on Fathers Day.

We were sitting around a bonfire beside the lake. We hadn’t been talking about our fathers; in fact we had been talking about Warren Buffet the billionaire.  We were talking about how we’d recently seen a documentary story on the frugal and wise investor.  We were commenting on how he’d told his children that he wasn’t leaving them his billions and how they seemed to be just fine with that.  Mr. Buffet had obviously taught his children some good ethics and morals and we all agreed that children should not expect to receive anything when their parents die.

“My father didn’t leave me anything” he said.  “Lots of people think that’s how I got this house, but my father didn’t leave me a cent.”

He was staring into the fire as he spoke.

“My dad used to tell me these bad jokes.  Well, they weren’t really jokes exactly.  They were strange.  It’s hard to explain.”

We could see him trying to remember, to find the right words.

“Well, here’s an example of one.”

Hayman’s father told him to climb up onto the first rung of the ladder and then jump to him.  “I’ll catch you”, he said.  So Hayman climbed the first rung of the ladder and jumped into his fathers arms.  “Now climb to the next rung and jump to me.”  Haymen jumped into his fathers arms again.  When he jumped from about the fifth rung Hayman’s father stepped back and let his son fall without catching him.

My dad said “You see! Trust no one.”

We were all quiet for a moment. “Um, well, I guess he thought that was an important lesson for you,” someone offered.

“I guess,” he said quietly.  “He did teach me to swim!”  He said it enthusiastically and we all felt reassured until…

“Yep, he threw me into the lake and called out not to worry, that he’d save me if I started to drown”.

Of course, he swam.

We all sat silent, imagining him as a very young boy, wildly kicking his legs and flapping his arms, willing himself to the surface.  And we knew too that as he gasped for air and propelled himself out of the water, poor little Hayman was very much on his mind.

5 Comments

  • Lozza

    Yes we all take a different path to where we are today with different lessons learned along the way. Some of us have an easy road, others a much harder road to navigate. Sometimes when y0u learn the road individuals are forced to take, we have a much better understanding of them.
    The lessons we learn are often tainted by our teachers experiences..good or bad.

  • jacquie

    Everything that happened to you is what makes you who you are today. You have to be grateful for the lessons learned…or else you’d be a miserable mess.

    What I got from that story is that your guy friend at the lake turned into the kind of person who earned himself a big house and has lots of friends who enjoy spending time with him sitting and chatting by a fire. I say – job well done, tough dad. You may not have been perfect, but you raised a good guy. He may chose to do things differently with his own son, though…no offense.

    When you focus on the positive it all seems to make sense.

  • Jane

    Good comments Jacquie. When we become parents we just have to try and do the best we can with what we know then. Very easy to look back and see our mistakes. Just hope kids learn from their parents miss steps.

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