Who we are
It's been said we're the sum of our experiences. That may be true, but I think alot of what we are - who we are - comes from our parents.
Some things our parents try to teach us will shape what we do and how we act. Some things our parents don't try to teach us will shape who we are. My dad gave me both.
My dad is Lowell Foster. I owe most of who I am to him. OK, I learned lessons on my own but Dad gave me the foundation for how to learn them. With a mother who was mentally ill, my childhood was unusual. Dad helped me separate the sense from the nonsense.
Sometimes his lessons were simple.
"Don't ever hate somebody. You can dislike who they are and what they do, but don't hate them. Hate only hurts you."
Sometimes they were complex.
"Doug, we're going to build a go-kart the right way. Let me show you how we need to do it. We're not going to just slap-nail some wood together. We'll drill holes, press bushings, use a steel axle, and put a thrust bearing on the turning mechanism. (I was about 6 at the time.)"
And sometimes they were unintentional.
"Here Doug, you might enjoy reading this book. It's called "A Pretty Good Person". You know, when I die I want people to look back on my life and say that about me. Not that I was great person ... or an expert at some craft ... or even a man who conquered his dreams. I just want them to say "You know, that Lowell was a pretty good person."
I write this as I sit next to him. He's in a nursing home, confined to bed, just a couple months shy of his 93rd birthday. He hasn't eaten for weeks and is only occasionally able to recognize me.
In days he'll be gone. But when he is I'm sure I'll say "You know, my dad was a pretty good person. Not perfect, not infallible. But you know what? I think he helped make me who I am. Thanks Dad."