When it becomes your unfortunate lot to be orphaned in life, you recollect a great deal about your parents, reflecting back on many things, including the wisdom they passed along.
Fortunately, while both of my parents were alive, I had grown old enough to appreciate my upbringing and the lessons they taught. Now, though, I realize in thinking back that it was Mama who taught me useable skills in life like sewing, cooking and gardening, while Daddy preached the principles that have guided me personally and professionally. He was special. I often encounter people who say, "I thought so much of your daddy. He was a fine man."
But he could be peculiar, too.
First of all, he loathed holidays. He appreciated Christmas and Easter for what they represented, but gifts of any kind were, in his estimation, "a bunch of nonsense." Desserts, he proclaimed, were childish and just for kids, but championship wrestling was serious business. Long before it was cool to the masses, Daddy spent his Saturday nights with Dusty Rhodes, Rick Flair and Thunderbolt Patterson.
I guess you could say he was an enigma, a paradox of sorts.
Normally, though, he was more focused on the practical things of life, like common sense and wisdom. Every day I think of him and follow his advice at least once in the day. In honor of Father's Day, one of those "foolish" holidays, here are a few of my favorite pieces of his wisdom:
Worry not over what money and hard work can replace. I was 16 years old and had just backed the family sedan into a car in the Sears parking lot. It was about a hundred dollars worth of damage to both cars, but I cried as if I had totaled them. Daddy, calm and cool, showed up. He put his arm around me and shared that piece of wisdom. At the time, I was just relieved not to be in trouble and didn't absorb the power of those words. In the weeks that follow my brother's and Mama's deaths, I truly understood. Material things can be replaced. Loved ones can't be.
You can only help someone when they need help. When life is way too busy and I have way too much to do, but a friend or loved one is in need of a casserole, a cake, a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on, I repeat these words out loud. Then, I do exactly what he would expect me to do, and what I should do.
A man who'll lie to you, will steal from you. Daddy was so honorable and forthright that folks with whom he dealt in business nicknamed him "Honest Ralph." His word was his bond, the same as money in the bank and that's what he taught his children. He did most business deals on a handshake and his word. Today, 90 percent of my business transactions are done on my word only. The others are more elaborate deals that require contracts, but it doesn't take a 40-page legal document to get me to keep my word. Daddy was right, though. Lying is only one step away from stealing and cheating.
Put your faith in God, not man, because man will let you down. God won't. Even the people who love us the most will one day let us down over something. Still, I've had to learn that lesson the hard way a few times from people I thought would never disappoint me. Had I listened to Daddy in the first place, I would never have had such high expectations.
When Daddy died, he left a few material things behind for me to inherit: a well-worn Bible, a watch, a ring and some money. But nothing compares to the wisdom he left behind. Without fail, I use some of it every day.
Happy Father's Day.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)." Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com.