Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds

by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp, Author & Health Coach for Living life with diabetes and organ transplants, rather than limiting life because of them.

Browsing Posts tagged father’s day

I hope children and wives will treat the dads in their lives like kings this Father’s Day. Growing up, ties and after shave cologne were common gifts, but dad seemed to like the ones my brother and I made the best. Even if it was a card, he would save the note.

As I grew older, my college part time job enabled me to buy even better presents–at least I thought so. One year when I bought my father a Calvin Klein monogrammed shirt, he opened it and said, “Uh oh, we better go find Calvin. He’s walking around in a Jim Lewis shirt”!

After getting married, I found out that my father-in-law shared the same birthday as my father. So that meant that I bought the same thing, just different colors for my dad and father-in-law for both Father’s Day and their birthday. It was like dressing twins alike. Once again, I liked it–not sure how they really felt.

My father died when he was just 52 years old. I console myself with the reminder that while 52 is indeed young, and there was so much more I wanted to share with my dad, I HAD AN INCREDIBLE FATHER! And those 31 years of my life were outstanding because of him. There are many people, particularly women who didn’t grow up with the nurturing hand of a father. They didn’t grow up with a man to show them what to expect out of marriage, how to be treated and how to be taken care of by a man.

Not only was he there to show me what I should expect from a man, he taught me much of my business acumen. As he put it, “school teaches you fundamentals in a perfect world. You graduate with a box of phenomenal analytical tools. Now it is up to me [as your first employer] to teach you how and when to employ them. It’s up to me to teach you how to feel it in your gut and to be motivated by those well calculated gut feelings.” I don’t think I could have gotten better training from anyone else other than my dad.

When my mother died and joined her husband in heaven, my brother and I divided her possessions and sold her house.  As the mass of video tapes were concerned, Jeff took all the Star Wars video tapes, and I took some unmarked videos with the intention of going through them and labeling them if not disposing of them. Well, you know how that goes. I tucked them away, and out of sight, out of mind. Recently I decided to make it a point to go through them while walking on the treadmill. I knew one of them was the video tape that my father took during my wedding shower. And so I carefully marked that one and now my intention is to copy it to DVD.

There were several 1980s Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda exercise videos–hilarious. I found a DVD of my mother in a public speaking course at Ford Motor Company, precious. And then there it was. A video tape of my graduate school graduation. My father was operating the camera and I got a chance to eavesdrop on his conversations with whomever he was talking to while videotaping. The Michigan Spring Commencement is held in the Big House and my dad came down on the field to get a close up shot of me and a classmate. Then he went back to his seat. On the video tape, I could hear my mother directing him, “There she is, waving”. As he combed the sea of graduates, he asked, “where? Is she still waving?”

The next scene was at my open house. Tired from his videotaping at the graduation, Dad decided to put the camera  on the tripod and just let it run.  Now I was able to eavesdrop on lots of conversations.

One that I play over and over again is my cousin asking my father, “So now that she’s graduated, what’s she going to do”? My dad quickly answered with excitement, “She’s going to come and work for me. I’ve got a whole list of things for her to get started on.” I wasn’t at all surprised that my father was proud of me–after all he told me so as a child, as an adult and as an employee. What was so special was listening to him tell others.

The end of the video tape was my father recording the contents of their home for insurance purposes. What would have otherwise been a boring video became exciting when my father walked in front of the glass door and I was able to see his reflection.

Remember Dads, it’s not the big things, but the lasting love, pride and

direction that you give that makes a difference.

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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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