These Lessons Learned From My Father
Quick Facts About My Father
- Born Jun 16, 1940
- Married November 21, 1962
- First child, LaDonna, born July 17, 1964
- Second child, LaDena, born November 13, 1965
- Third child, LaDetta, born and died 1966
- Fourth child, LaRina, born March 5, 1969
- Fifth child, John, born and died 1971
- Sixth child, Jeffrey, born and died 1972
- Found out he had non-Hodgkins Lymphoma 1974
- Died from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma May 12, 1977
My Father My Hero
My dad passed away from cancer – non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – when I was eleven years old. It was one of the saddest days of my life. My dad was my hero – I guess every little girl can say that – or should be able to say that. But my dad really was a hero. At least to my sisters and me.
My Father Wanted Boys - And Got Girls
My dad made no secret of the fact that he wanted a boy – at least one boy. He wanted to be able to teach a little boy all about motorcycles and cars and football. He wanted a little boy to hang out in the garage with while he worked on whatever project he was working on. Sadly, my dad only had us three girls. So he made the best of it.
He taught us girls that we were as good – if not better – than any boys. He took us into the garage and taught us as much as he could about the inside of an engine. He taught us how to put oil and other fluids into the car. Whenever he changed a tire, he made us watch – he wanted us to be able to change a tire on our own and not have to wait for a man to have to do it for us.
Jerry Wayne Patterson, Age 1 year
My Dad Treated Us Like Boys - Only Better
He taught us to ride motorcycles while we were very young. My older sister was even in an endurance race with him and my mother when she was around eight or nine. He taught us that if we wanted to ride the motorcycle, we would have to do it all by ourselves – and we would have to help take care of it, as well. If our motorcycle was running funny, we were supposed to let him know as soon as possible. If we could help fix the problem, he would allow us to help. If we couldn’t help, we had to watch, so that someday we might be able to help.
Dad, Age 12
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My Father Taught Me Self-Dependence
He taught us to take care of ourselves, as well. He taught us to defend ourselves when necessary. He taught us that we should never, ever start a fight – but we should always finish one. That might not be so popular nowadays, but that is what he believed. Once, when we were in grade school, my sister and I were walking home from school with some friends. My sister and her friend were whispering together. This was in the mid-1970’s and racial tensions were still fairly high where we lived. A group of Black boys were walking behind us and thought they heard my sister and her friend make a racial slur – which did not happen. The boys – about ten of them – attacked my sister and her friend. The friend ran off, leaving my sister to fend for herself. She fought well, but ended up losing a tooth and with many bumps and bruises. I had run to get my dad and he got there in time to see the boys run away. My dad was very angry, of course, but proud of my sister for sticking up for herself in this situation. We went to the police station immediately to press charges against the group of boys. Since they were juveniles, not much could be done. The best that happened was that we were then allowed to arrive at school ten minutes late and leave ten minutes early to avoid coming into contact with the boys again. We moved soon afterwards and never had any more trouble with them.
My Dad, Age 15
My Dad, Sailor
My Dad Taught Me The Importance of Family
My dad taught us the importance of family. Family was one of THE most important things to my dad. If we were nearby, we would be sure to spend Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July with his family. I loved his family when I was small. He had one brother and four sisters – and all of them had kids, so there were also plenty of cousins to hang out with. My dad thought the world of his own dad. My grandfather was not the best man in the world – I found out as I grew older that he was an alcoholic and not too responsible. But my dad loved and respected him.
My grandfather had worked at an aircraft company for at least a while before I came around. By the time I was old enough to know what he did, he had his own paint shop operating out of his garage at the edge of town. I loved working in his garage with him, and still love the smell of paint and all of the accompanying fumes that go along with it. My dad taught me that helping out my grandfather was a way to show him respect – and that we should always respect our elders, no matter what.
My Father Taught Me Dignity
My dad taught me dignity. When he found out he had cancer, he didn’t just lie around and wait to die. His doctors told him he had about six months to live. My dad didn’t agree with his doctors. He continued to work, moved back to Kansas to be around his family, and fought cancer for three more years. He never wanted to give up. He taught us all that life was worth living and that you should give it everything you had. He worked hard in those last years to make sure that his family would be taken care of when he passed away. He bought our first house on a half-acre in a country neighborhood near a creek and an orchard and around animals to play with. He bought mom a new car and new furniture and new appliances for the house. He wanted to make sure his “girls” were taken care of before he passed away.
Things My Dad Taught Me
- Girls are as good as - if not better than - boys
- Family is important - the most important thing in life
- Above all - love!
My Father Taught Me Many Important Lessons
I learned a lot from my dad in the few short years we had him. And today on this Father’s Day – that would also have been his 73rd birthday – I want to share with the world this wonderful man and all of the lessons he taught me and my sisters.
My Dad, On His Wedding Day, With My Mom
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