My father died 18 years ago, but I have decided not to let the his absence from earth get me down. Instead I celebrate the indelible lessons he taught me, and I hope to pass them on to my son. These particular lessons from my dad, are at the top of my list.

You can do anything you want to do as long as you are willing to work hard at it.

My dad never wanted me to feel as if I was somehow handicapped by my diabetes and couldn’t excel at what was important to me and so he always told me, “You can do anything you want to do as long as you are willing to work hard at it”. So when I asked him what he wanted me to be when I grew up, he answered, “whatever you are willing to work hard at”. When I asked him if I should continue with ballet lessons, he answered “is it what you want to work hard at”? When I asked him if I should choose the University of Michigan for college, he answered (after a discussion about the cost of private college) “will you work hard there”?

If I can do it, you can do it.

At the combative age of 13, I was sick of being diabetic and taking shots twice a day. And so my father sat down next to me in short pants and drew up water into an insulin syringe. I saw what he was about to do and I said, “Dad, you don’t have to”. My dad answered, “If I can do it, you can do it”. And he proceeded to give himself a shot of water.

Hey, there is some guy running around in a Jim Lewis sweater!

Living on my own in college taught me a sense of style. And in the 80s, designer wear was all the rave. For Christmas, I bought my father a Calvin Klein pullover. Eager for him to open it and to be impressed, I stood over him as he tore open the wrapping. He lifted the neatly folded sweater and saw that there was nothing else underneath and said, “Oh no, there is some guy named Calvin running around in a Jim Lewis monogrammed sweater”!

Do you think you are the first person to make a mistake?  

I was not a perfect child growing up—but pretty close to itJ. One misstep in particular, I was petrified to tell my father about. And so I told my mother. She knew I could not stand to disappoint my father and so her punishment for me was for me to tell my father. I cried and begged for forgiveness before even telling him what I had done. When I finally told him, he looked me in the eyes and asked me, “Do you think that you are the first person to make a mistake?

This lesson in particular is one I must make sure my son understands—that we all make mistakes, and thankfully we serve a God who forgives us of our sins.

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