Dad thinking

Lowell Foster – A Pretty Good Person

A Pretty Good Person

Erin, Dad, & Amber

These are remarks I shared at Dad's memorial service.

Twenty years ago Dad gave Cindy & I a book. It was called A Pretty Good Person. He said “Doug, when I die that’s how I’d like to be remembered. Not perfect, not as someone who made his mark on the universe, but just as a pretty good person.” The subtitle of the book was How to live life with integrity, gratitude, and courage.

I’d like to share 3 brief memories.

First, one about courage ... My mother was mentally ill for most of my childhood. Dad told a story about the time he committed her after I was born. Behind the wheel of his car and overwhelmed - he prayed for strength. He said a warm glow descended over him - from his head to his feet - and he sensed a voice saying ‘It’s going to be ok.’ I believe - with God’s help - my dad was a very courageous man.

Second, integrity ... When I was really upset during one of my mother’s episodes, I think I used the phrase ‘I hate her.’ Dad said ‘Don’t ever say that. You can dislike a person or what they do, and you can be upset with them, but don’t hate them. Hate will just hurt you.’ I saw him maintain that conviction through some very difficult times. I believe my dad was a man who practiced - and achieved - integrity.

Finally, gratitude ... When I was young and my mother was in the hospital, Dad and I attended a revival service by Billy Graham. At the end was the alter call & we both went down front, knelt, and prayed. Maybe his parents taught him, maybe he learned it through hardship, but I believe my father took nothing for granted. To me he was a man filled with quiet gratitude for God’s blessings on his life.

I believe my dad, Lowell Foster, was a pretty good person.

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.

Dad and I at our house on 3429 Eastmont Drive in South Bend, Indiana - 1961

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.

Life Lessons

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."

Thanks Dad

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."

Category: Thoughts
Topics: People
Tags: Lowell Foster