I told a friend one day that I enjoyed my job and he quickly retorted, “I have never liked even one day at work in my whole life.” We were both 65 at the time and he couldn’t understand why I would still get up early and spend every day going to a job.

I will admit that I have not enjoyed every job that I have had and I certainly have not enjoyed every task that was assigned to me but I am thankful for each one.

I often tell people that My Daddy taught me how to work, not how to vacation. He told me once, “Learn a trade and you will always be able to find work and when you get a steady job, you will be able to sleep nights.”

How did he come up with such a policy?

Daddy’s family was normal for the small community where he lived. His daddy, my granddaddy, was an engineer on a logging train, a hard working man who loved to hunt and fish. One night after work, already showing flu like symptoms, he chose to go out in the cold rain to get some meat for the family table. It was a successful trip but it turned out to be very costly for him and the family when he developed a severe case of pneumonia and died a few days later.

My daddy was only 9-years old and he had younger siblings to mentor. Money was tight but his granddaddy, the local blacksmith, helped as much as he could. He taught his young grandson how to shoe horses and do other tasks and paid him for some of his work around the forge. This helped feed the family for the next six years but then his grandfather passed away.

The family was suddenly even poorer than before so my daddy, at the age of 15 took on the role of primary bread winner, quit school and began a lifetime of work to make sure there would always be food on his family’s table. He never complained and always expressed his gratitude to the men of Shubuta, Mississippi who taught him mechanical skills and who provided paying work for him.
Just like granddaddy, daddy and his younger brother hunted many nights, often coming in late with fresh meat. My grandmother would get out of bed, prepare the first family meal of the day, and the family would gather around the candle lit table and be thankful for the fresh biscuits and rabbit smothered in gravy.

My daddy always worked and I got to know him working beside him. We never went on a vacation to a tourist destination; we never got to put a bumper sticker on our car that read, “See Rock City,” like some of my friends. If we went anywhere it was to visit relatives and I loved it. I still maintain close relationships with many of the cousins I got to know during those trips.

I never sat on a church pew beside my daddy, I never heard him pray, I never heard him say, “I love you,” but I watched him be patient and kind to everyone he met and I knew with every action that he made toward me that he loved me as much as any father ever did. He taught me to work hard, treat others fairly, to be honest, and I trusted him with my life. He taught me how to fix things and he loved my mother.

I followed his advice about keeping a steady job for a long time but there came a day when I realized that I was different. After hearing that great philosopher, Evel Knievel, in an interview right before one of his infamous jumps respond to a question about how could he continue to perform such dangerous stunts say, I would rather die trying to do something that I wanted to do than to live and never try anything (paraphrase).

All I wanted to do was change jobs, so I quit a very good civil service job and started a lifetime of trusting God to provide for me and my family and I have never regretted it.

There were some lean times when I found myself without a job but I have never collected unemployment insurance or welfare and my family never went hungry.

All of this rambling to say that I am not troubled by working, in fact I enjoy it. I work part time now and I consider myself fortunate to work for people who are flexible enough to allow me to continue in a limited role. If I die without ever being fully retired, I have lived a satisfying life of service to others both paid and voluntary.

Thank You Daddy for instilling your work ethic in me.

by Wayne Brady 3/31/2013

2 thoughts on “A Lifetime of Work

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