I learned a lot from my dad, Jerry Gibson, and on Father’s Day, I think about some of the advice and life lessons that I learned from him.
- If it gets worse, you’ll find it; if it goes away, it wasn’t anything to worry about anyway. When I was in my early teens, my dad and I went to the Cape to start to open up the cottages for the season. My parents had bought 10 rental cottages in themid-1960’s and one of the rituals of spring was go and open them up, see what had crawled in over the winter. I was opening up and cleaning number 7, which is where our family stayed. There was something that smelled bad in the kitchen. It smelled like a dead animal. I looked all over for it. I looked under the refrigerator, pulled the refrigerator away from the wall, pulled the stove away from the wall, and looked everywhere but I couldn’t find it. I told my dad and he said that if gets worse, then you’ll be able to find it and if it goes away, it wasn’t anything to worry about anyway. This has been some of the best advice that I ever had and it’s been helpful is so many situations. If ever there’s anykind of a problem that I can’t immediately figure out, I think about this advice. If the problem gets worse, then you can figure it what’s causing it and what to do about it. If it goes away, then it wasn’t anything to worry about anyway. At home, at work, it’s helped me a lot.And I eventually found a couple of dead mice in the insulation around the oven. They had crawled in and probably died when it got really cold.
- Listen. Another part of the opening the cottage in the spring was turning on the water. The cottages weren’twinterized, so you had to turn off the water and drain the pipes in the fall, or the pipes would freeze over the winter. Every spring, we’d turn on the water, walk around each cottage and listen. Almost every year, there was a pipe joint that separated or connections that no longer connected and you’d find them by listening. You’d listen for running water, or the hissing sound of pipe or connection that was spraying water out of a tiny leak. You’d then turn off the water, drain the pipes, solder the connection or replace the pipe, turn the water on and listen again. You did this over and over until it was quiet in and around each cottage..There’s a lot to be said for listening. Many much smarter than me have written about the value of listening, active listening and how to listen effectively. But nothing quite compares with listening to make sure everything is alright. I still will hear and wonder what’s going on when I hear running water. We rent the third floor or our house, and sometimes at night I will hear water running and I’ll wait until it stops just to make sure that someone was actually using the water and it wasn’t a leak.
- Keep trying. I’ve already written about how my dad had grit and perseverance, but as I was writing about his experiences as an employee, independent contractor and entrepreneur, I was struck by how many times, things didn’t turn out as he planned, but he kept chugging away. I think about how he bought a laundromat that closed because it produced too much waste water and the town didn’t have an economical way to handle it at the time; and the condominium project that was plagued by construction issues and lawsuits. Throughout it all, he maintained his optimism and kept trying. I think about the Japanese proverb: Fall down seven times; get up eight. This proverb was meant for my dad. There were many times he fell down, but he kept getting back up.
- Play with the children. Perhaps my dad’s greatest strength was his ability to play with my siblings and me when we were growing up and to play with his grandchildren when they were growing up. All of the children in our family remember the game my dad invented where we would hide in the bathroom and he would turn off all the lights and hide. For some reason, which to this day escapes me, we would venture out of the bathroom and look for him, only to be terrified and race back to the bathroom when we found him. One night I tripped and hit my head on a chairs, so we stopped playing that game that night and I don’t remember playing it after that. I adapted his game for my children. We’d play a game called “Kiss Daniel, Kiss Annie” where I would chase them around the house (with the lights on, mind you) telling them that I just wanted to give them a kiss. Daniel and Annie loved the game and unfortunately, I got tired a lot sooner than they did.My dad also played with his grandchildren. He invented games like where he’d pretend to be asleep and Corey would take his eyeglasses and then he’d have to find them. He chased and tickled my children and they have very fond memories of those games. Throughout his life, he was always able to make something fun and play games with children. I learned much from him. I see my children, who are now 15 and 18, play with their much younger cousins and I see how much my dad affected me and them.
These are some of the life lessons I learned from my dad. On this Father’s Day, I hope all the dads have a wonderful day and are happy, healthy, safe and have at a day of living life with ease.