What Jack Taught Jill

What Jack Taught Jill

At the end of his senior year in high school, Jack joined the Navy and was shipped out to the Pacific. It was near the end of WWII, but he felt it was his patriotic duty to fight for freedom.

Upon his return, he went to college, got an engineering degree, landed a decent job, and married my mother. I was born a year later.

Yes, we were Jack & Jill. Over the years, he taught me a lot. Sometimes I didn’t like the lessons.

I’ll never forget what happened in fifth grade. Our house was a few blocks from the new highway bridge. The concrete underneath it was so white and barren; it cried for graffiti. So a friend and I decorated it using black tarry road chips.

Apparently, a neighbor saw us. When my dad heard about it, he summoned me to the kitchen, gave me a warm bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush. Then he sent me back to the underpass and told me not to come home till it was clean.

Why? Because “Actions have consequences.” Plain and simple. Fair, but tough to learn. And ultimately, over time, you get it.

When I was six, my folks bought a tiny 2-bedroom cabin with no running water and an outhouse. It was a little tight for a family of six.

DadOver the years, Dad built an addition, added running water, an indoor toilet and a shower, built a porch, and then dug a basement underneath. Finally, he built a boat house/bunk room.

During the winter months, he built a speed boat in our home garage and fixed our broken cars. He remodeled our basement, creating an extra bedroom and TV room. And MORE.

Why did he do all that? He lived by the motto, “Don’t spend more than you make.” And by doing things himself, they could afford the lifestyle they wanted. But he also took great pride in his creations. I learned that being frugal had many benefits.

From a career standpoint too, Dad taught me important lessons. He was a smart engineer with good people skills. Before long, 3M promoted him into management.

He stayed for a while but wasn’t happy. He wasn’t doing the work that he loved. So, rather than climb the corporate ladder, he requested a move back to an engineer.

When he finally retired, he told me, “My job is so much fun. I get to solve problems that are stumping other engineers.”

That changed my career. Back then I did a lot of sales training. It drove me nuts teaching the same thing over and over. People kept telling me to grow the company, hire trainers. That didn’t sound fun either.

I liked working with clients on tough sales challenges and new product launches. So that’s where I focused—and the rest is history.

My father passed away on Christmas Day in 2019. The day before, one-by-one, each of his four children visited him at the nursing home. We all heard the same message:

I’ve had a good life.
I loved my wife. I love my children.
I’m proud of how you all turned out.
I loved my job too.
My life is complete.

Wow! That’s what I want to be able to say in my last days…that my life is complete.

For his Celebration of Life, he requested that we play two songs: “These Hands” by Johnny Cash and “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston.

These Hands, Johnny CashThese Hands, Johnny CashThe Star-Spangled Banner, Whitney HoustonThe Star-Spangled Banner, Whitney Houston

He was a family man with high standards, a hard worker, a problem-solver, a patriot and an all-around good guy.

And that’s what Jack taught Jill.

P.S. I’m the little girl on the left.


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