Success & My Daddy's Birthday

“Success. If you have tried to do something and failed, you are vastly better off than if you had tried to do nothing and succeeded.”

I cannot remember when I first noticed it, but my dad has had this quote on a piece of paper for quite some time. It looks as if someone photocopied it from another source, with lines and folds on a normal sized sheet of paper, and this quote taking up 1/10 of the space.

I describe my daddy as one of the hardest men I know, because I’m not sure what other word to use to describe him. Today is his birthday - he’s 71. I don’t know any other 71 year old man like my daddy.

From the time he was a young boy, he had responsibilities on the farm. His childhood was completely unlike my childhood, or my children’s current childhood. The only extracurricular activities in which he participated were 4-H, showing cattle, and working with my grandfather on the farm. He often tells my kids, “By the time I was your age I was driving a tractor by myself sowing wheat,” which would be at about the age of 10. In high school, my daddy had a route selling eggs - before school started. He had several stores to whom he delivered eggs prior to his day starting at school, where he was at the top of his class.

His mom died from radiation treatments for cancer when he was only 16. My aunt was 13 at the time, and was left with keeping the home running while my dad and grandfather were keeping the farm running. My grandmother would have been 100 just a few days ago, had she still been alive. So many years have passed, but every time he is proud of me, or one of my sisters, or one of my kids, he always tells me (with tears in his eyes) how proud my grandmother would have been to see it. That is a high compliment, because in his eyes, my grandmother hung the moon.

The thing I remember about my daddy throughout my childhood was how hard he worked. He was usually up and gone very early because cattle had to be fed and the day had to start. Weather does not have any effect on whether farmers go to work. No snow days, and barely time to stop to take a short vacation with family.

I am a twin to Sara, and a younger sister to Allison. Sara and Allison formed a bond the minute we were born, because Sara was small enough to be fed by Allison, who was 3.5 years older. As a result, I was constantly fighting for my place as the third wheel in the sister group….and when I say fighting, it is literal. My Riley is a fighter (not physically, but the girl is beyond loyal to friends, and sometimes is overboard with standing up for herself and for her friends.). When Riley was little, my husband asked my dad if I “fought” him like Riley was doing. My daddy’s response: “Shannan would fight anything.” I think he is proud of that.

My daddy also has an extremely tender heart, and years are proving that we get to see evidence of that. After fighting with one of my sisters, almost a daily occurrence of my childhood, my daddy would invite me to “rock” with him. Many times as a girl, I thought the world was against me, and my daddy would invite me to curl up on his lap, and he would just rock us in his recliner and watch tv together. I don’t remember many words spoken, just being held. The world could have fallen apart around us, but I was safe there in my daddy’s arms, while he rocked my cares away.

My parents supported me, my sisters, and now my kids in each new endeavor. Sometimes the only thing for which my dad would then stop working, and will now stop working, is to watch my kids play sports or perform in a talent show, or to come see me sing and play. He soaks in every moment.

A year ago my dad had a heart attack…in the field….chasing cattle on a four wheeler. Did he stop? Nope. He had the cattle he needed in his sights, and that had to be finished before he stopped to think about having a heart attack. Again…one of the hardest men I know. Praise God he was ok until he got to the hospital, and he is back to working 10 hour days.

“You just have to keep on a goin’.” My daddy says this frequently. Cattle trading - it is not for the faint-hearted, nor for the “non” risk taker. Sometimes things go for the great, sometimes things go south. “It’s just business. You just have to keep on a goin’.”

Maybe that’s where my sisters and I learned risk-taking. I cannot remember a time when my parents ever said that we couldn’t do something (except for cheerleading in third grade - thank goodness my mama said that. I would have missed out on playing basketball and volleyball!). My dad and mom always encouraged us, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” I think that has played out in our lives, and certainly has played out in the way we approach things in the world. Analyze the situation and go for it, if it’s something you want to do.

This approach to new experiences encouraged all of us to try new things, with little doubt that we were either smart enough to figure it out or that we could work hard enough to achieve anything.

I think about Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (5:16)… (I bolded parts)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, today, on my daddy’s birthday, I think about the SUCCESS quote that he gave to me. He didn’t say anything when he handed me the framed quote, and he didn’t have to. I knew why he was giving it to me…he was encouraging me to keep being vulnerable and taking risks with this music that I’m writing. He was telling me not to look back and have any regrets about not trying. He was telling me how proud he was of me for figuring out what I’ve figured out so far, and to keep pressing on, making the most of every opportunity.

I have to add…my daddy also has another saying, “As Dizzy Dean said, ‘If you done it, it ain’t bragging.’”