Make Your Own Memorial Days and Seven Lessons Learn From My Father-In-Law For Furious Fathers

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Today it has been one year since my father-in-law (FIL) made his transition to eternity. My wife wanted to spend the day at the city zoo because that was one of the places he would meet her and the kids during the day for outings. I took the day off of work, gave the kids the day off of school (reason, 32,499 to homeschool), and dedicated this as a memorial day for his life, especially because it has been a year after his passing.

Make Your Own Family Holidays and Memorial Days

Monday, my main hustle gave us the day off to honor President’s Day. I decided to work and take today off instead. First, History.com describes Presidents day as, “Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.” Personally, I’ve never been a fan of celebrating someone who would have me working on the plantation as a slave if they were alive today, and my family does not celebrate many of this nation’s holidays because they really are not for us. It is said that Mr. Washington “owned” over 300 “slaves” at the time of his death. After he died, I’m sure he had a good reason before the Creator of Man how he could own something that he did not create, and whether or not he treated them justly as human beings.  Therefore, we ignored this day (notice that as with most “holidays” as well,  honoring the person isn’t the primary reason, but monetary gain to the nation), and decided to give a day to someone who really meant something in our lives.

I would like to encourage all of the Furious Fathers to consider doing the same. First, consider some significant days in your life or the anniversary dates of impactful moments and people in your life. Maybe it’s the birth/death of your parents or friends that are no longer with us. Maybe it’s the anniversary of a significant family event or for some men, just taking their kid’s birthdays off would be a great start. Whatever you can find, I encourage you to give it a try. This is a great time for the family to come together in the evening for a meal, and reflect on why the day is special, handing down memories and lessons from the one honored or from an event, all with the intention of helping shape your family’s present and future.

Seven Lessons from My Father-In-Law

On that note, allow me to share with you seven lessons that I learned from my father-in-law, as I reflected on our relationship today.

  • If the Good Lord woke you up, it’s a good day – In the final years of his life, as I think he began to see that he did not have the energy and ability to do what he once did, I would ask my FIL how he was doing and his response was always, “The Good Lord woke me up this morning, so that makes it a good day.” How we love to “wake up on the wrong side of the bed” or immediately allow ourselves to get swept up in the cares of a day and thinking life is so miserable, never just being thankful that if our eyes opened, the day is good. That certainly doesn’t mean that we smile with joy when bad things happen or life does not seem to be waiting like a towel when we get out the morning shower to not dry us off, but add more water, the last thing we need. That just means that if you have the mental ability to know that it is another day (and not all people have this ability), it is off to a good start. This is truly a glass-half-full mindset. My FIL had an apartment in one of the more swanky cities in the area, known for being liberal, having a small downtown to party in, and trendy restaurants, but he lived on the 11th floor and could see above the city’s tree line and would not move from that location. He had his view to see the sun come up in the east, and the ability to go sit on the corner and people watch, and he had seen that town change so much in all the years he lived and worked in the same area. He found contentment in the “little” things we often take for granted, the real treasures that make each day a good day.

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  • You are never too old to change – When my FIL first heard about this so-called Black guy dating his daughter, he put down an edict that still has ramifications to this day. He said I was not allowed to come over to his house. I guess he felt superior as a hard-working so-called White man that the thought of his daughter being interested in someone Black after having her born and raised away from Black people, and the fact that this guy was working a dead-end job and already had a child, didn’t help as well. Needless-to-say, the latter two I’d have a problem with if my daughters were dating someone in the demographic. But over the years, I guess as he saw I was still in his daughter’s life after many years and was not afraid of him in any way, he seemed to change. Now this change wasn’t (at least outwardly) the usual go-along-to-get-along because my FIL never seemed much like that, but one that seemed genuine after his ideology was challenged and what seemed like some introspection on his part. Obviously, the fact that I am blogging about him right now says much, and after a few meetings, we quickly become quite close. I think he respected me and knew I respected him, even if we disagree with each other’s position on a topic, more we also discovered that we had so much in common and, as most father’s learned, his daughter may have married a man just like him despite being completely opposite in skin color. In the last decade of his life, my FIL and I grew pretty close, and at family events, we talked constantly. When he stopped attending those, I pretty much did as well! Our relationship was then built outside his immediate family, and sometimes he would call and we would talk for minutes (cause y’all know ole dudes don’t stay on the phone for hours) and when he came the kid’s games and over for holidays, we would talk more than he would talk to my wife…even about race! Perhaps it was having grandchildren. Perhaps it was God. I’m not sure what is was, but this guy seemed to do a complete 180 and it has taught me that some leopards do change their spots, even at an old age.
  • Attend Every Game – One reason our relationship strengthened so much was because of the amount of time we spent together. This was not a planned meet-up, but because he always wanted to be at my kids’ ball games to support them. He was at the baseball games and basketball games, even the dance recitals which no man wants to sit through! I can’t recall a time he left early or arrived late, he was just always there. During that time, I heard many stories, and I loved the sports stories the most, as he was alive to see Willie Mays (and my FIL was a serious baseball fan) and Ted Williams. When he said Ted Williams was his favorite player, but Willie Mays was the best player to play the game, that statement had weight to me. When he criticized today’s players and spoke of problems in the game, I knew it was with the knowledge that would match any ESPN analyst with Google right at their fingertips to do research. He would often tell me that he knew the starting line-up of the 1957 Detroit Tigers, but not what he did last week. A feeling I now know very well, as I can name the starting line-up of the 1983 California Angels but struggle to nearly everything else in my life as well. When he attended, he just wanted them to know he was there and he never criticized their game, just that they were playing hard. After every game, regardless of the outcome, they came over for their high-five and “good game!” I don’t think they will realize the effort it takes to have that kind of attendance record until they have to make the effort to go watch their kids and grandkids play, no matter you feel or “meaningless” the game.

 

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Here’s the 1957 Detroit Tigers Opening Day line-up! Source: Baseball-reference.com

 

  • Always Be Teaching and Learning – Whether it be a game, family gathering or phone conversation, my FIL was always learning something and teaching. Looking back, like many men of his generation that did not complete his high school education, he never made it to high school. So I think he made it a priority to always be learning something new to cover up any lack of knowledge people might perceive that he had when speaking to him. He seemed to know quite a bit about nearly anything and if he knew I was into a particular topic, we would see each other the next time and he had some info for me. He was always teaching some lesson or sharing how some event from the past will visit us again in the future. But he could be in this position because he was always learning. For his birthday, he loved to get a gift certificate to the bookstore. He gave me boxes and boxes of books that he picked up from the Salvation Army for $1.00 or less, and the topics consisted of sports, philosophy, religion, reference material and on and on. He seemed so proud that we were homeschooling the children and even more proud of what we were teaching them and the people they were becoming. No one on either side of my family was as much of a champion for my kid’s education than he was, and he was so optimistic at their future because they were out of the system.
  • “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later” – Dave Ramsey said it, but my FIL truly lived it. If you would have met my FIL and heard of his shopping habits, you’d think he was an elder man that was barely getting by. Quite the contrary. Where did he shop? The Salvation Army or any second-hand store that had deals. He’d bring bags over all the time with nothing but the free stuff he received from the drugstore with coupons. Some items had expired, some we still have, and some we gave away, but he viewed it as, “Hey, it’s free, so I figured someone could use it.” He drove around so long in a plain white rental-car-looking Ford Focus. He put approximately 2,000 miles a year on the odometer. Now, it wasn’t that he didn’t like or couldn’t afford a more flashy car, as he always wanted to have an Audi R8 and lamented often how he had to get rid of that ’67 Camaro with a stick because my wife’s baby seat was on the floor next to my MIL and he couldn’t drive it without hitting her seat. But he kept saying, “I cannot see paying that much money for a car I’d never drive. I can take the bus if I really need to go downtown, and the car I have takes me anywhere else I need to go just fine.” He loved to chat about the press cars I’d bring home and would give me car mags he bought from the store with good articles. But if it did not make fiscal AND practical sense, there was no purpose in him parting with his cash. So he kept that flip-phone till the end.

 

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The last testosterone producing ride my FIL owned…that had to go because of my wife

 

 

 

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When my FIL talked about the R8, you could hear the excitement in his voice

 

  • Being alone for a man is not something to fear but embrace – My in-laws divorced shortly after my FIL retired. Many men I know at my age cannot stand to be alone, let alone a man that had been married for three decades. But he seemed to take pride in being a bachelor, with his “pad”, frugal life, and discovering new dishes that he could make and eat in his crock pot. Sometimes as men, I think that we avoid and fear of being alone after many years of marriage, so we jump right back into another relationship for more security. However, I think he was an excellent example of how to be content with one’s own thoughts, failures, and dreams. Dr. Robert Glover of No More Mr. Nice Guy says that we as men need to know that no matter what, we will be okay and we can handle it. It is a lesson I’m still learning.
  • We all have to die someday – In a few weeks, it will also be one year marking the time my FIL and I were to meet again. I saw him in January of 2016 when visiting the old neighborhood and I honestly thought that due to the short notice, he would not meet with me. My FIL took each day as it came, so if he wasn’t in the mood to chat and chill, it’s a no go. Surprise visits were even worse, as he has always been an early to bed and early to rise guy. But turned out, not only did my short notice not matter, he really wanted to see me. It was like he knew it was the last time we would see each other. When kicked it in his place for quite a while and even though I knew the doctor’s opinion was that his months may be numbered, his spirit and zest said otherwise. When I asked him how he was doing, he said that, “You know, this is tough, but hey, we all have to die someday.” I then asked about his relationship with God and he said he was at peace with his Maker, knew where he was going and was ready to go. During his battle with cancer, knowing that we had to die someday seemed to make him appreciate just one more day so much more. He said, “That Good Lord has given me a lot of years and a great life, great kids, great grandkids, a job I enjoyed, you know, what do I have to complain about?” I left his place saying that I would be back in March when I had to return to speak at an event. He said to definitely come back by and see him, but I didn’t know if he would make that meeting myself. I left his presence with tears in my eyes and basically saying to him how much I appreciated all of the things you get to read about right now. As a man who admitted to making many mistakes in his life, and some that he paid the price for till the end, I wanted him to know that our finish after a horrendous start is something I will never forget and truly shows God’s grace to the two of us. Ever humbly accepted and agreed, and encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing, because it’s my kids show that it is working. But I told him that he played a huge part of that as well, and it was one of the few times the old guy got speechless. I think we both parted ways unsure if that meeting, just less than two months away, would ever take place. I left having nothing unsaid to him, as who knows, I could have died instead. He at least seemed to be relieved at our honest exchange. All hearts were clear because we all have to die someday.

I don’t know.

Now I wonder, what DO I have to complain about?

That’s why we honor my FIL today and it’s good to think about the wisdom he passed down to me.

Other meaningless holidays come and go, but tomorrow, I’ll wake up thinking, “Thank you Good Lord for waking me up, and giving me a good day.”

 

If You Ain’t Cheating, You Ain’t Winning or Does Cheating Show A Deeper Problem In an Athlete’s Life?

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Dad’s, with all of the cheating that is going on in sports these days, how do you talk to your kids about this issue?

It’s hardly new. “Back in my day”, I wanted to throw a knuckler like Phil and Joe Niekro and a spitball like Gaylord Perry. Those were fun guys and Joe and Gaylord were cheaters, but hey, it was funny right? Did George Brett really mean to run Pine Tar that far up on the bat?

Come on! Lighten up!

Now this was before we really got serious on baseball cheaters like McGwire, Sosa, Bond (allegedly), A-Rod and the list goes on and on in that sport. But then there’s “Stickum” in football, anabolic steroids, growth hormone in almost every Olympic sport, blood doping in cycling, academic cheating from junior high through college for basketball and football players, car modification cheating in racing…maybe it is true, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying!

So we really shouldn’t be tripping out about Tom Brady.

But this article in The Root breaks down that we do view and talk about cheaters differently, I highly recommend giving it a read.

Here are some of the highlights:

“If he were black, people would be calling him a criminal and saying that his behavior reflected some innate values. They would blame hip-hop, single mothers and the culture of poverty. If he were a black player, the conversation wouldn’t be about Goodell or the system but how the lack of a work ethic and morals led him to cut corners, to win “by any means necessary.” If he were black, the conversation would turn to affirmative action and how he was forced to cheat because he lacked the skills needed to excel at this elite level….Brady demonstrates yet again that whites are innocent … until proved innocent. Any evidence to the contrary proves that the system is flawed, that we have a miscarriage of justice.”

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Dad’s when you’re having this discussion with your kids, do you unknowingly talk differently based on the color of the athlete?

It’s something to think about and it’s how we teach our children about so-called race, without ever talking about race in our homes. Then we proudly exclaim to the world, “I teach my kids that skin color doesn’t matter, everybody should be treated the same!”

So do you treat everyone the same in your actions and judgements on who’s a cheater and who isn’t? Perhaps this is a good discussion to have with ourselves first, and then our children as well.

CSD

Day 21 of 30 Days On Dads – African American Fathers & Baseball: The Future Depends On You

I was listening to a tremendous interview with Sociologists Dr. Harry Edwards (the podcast can be heard here) where he broke down some reasons for the decline in African-American baseball players. Later, I had a conversation with a friend and we discussed the lack of fundamentals seen in little league today. 

So take a look at the following chart created by sabr.org:

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Does anything surprise you?

What surprises me is the fact that according to the statistics, in 2012, African-Americans made up 7.2% of the MLB players. But in 1958, 11 years after Jackie Robinson broke the modern color-line in major league baseball (there were previously African-American’s in baseball, see here) there were 7.4%!

That’s right fans, major league baseball has the same percentage of African-American players as it had during the heart of American civil rights struggle as schools were still choosing to close their doors over desegregating.

This certainly deserves more of an in-depth study than what I’m going to do today, but I want to begin having the conversation and I want to first start with dads. Dr. Edwards has pointed out that unless we reach our boys (of any people group), with the sport of baseball by the time they are around ten years old, the likelihood of them picking up the sport is very minimal. Of course this gets compounded in the African-American community as they struggle with:

– lack of fathers in the household

– lack of funding for sports programs, especially baseball

– lack of secure playing field/area due to high crime rate in the neighborhood

– lack of finances to pay league fees and/or for equipment

– lack of interest due to popularity of football and basketball

– lack of fields that are in suitable playing condition (i.e. free of glass, high weeds)

– lack of investment by Major League Baseball (RBI Program excluded) in urban communities and lack of  marketing towards African-Americans.

Those are just a few issues off the top of my head and again, each deserves a study just to see if data backs up the observation.

But one thing for sure, as shown on this “good” commercial, dad’s can play a big part in reviving the game.

IMG_1314-w1000-h1000_new_WatermarkBroke-athletes

 

 

 

 

 

I remember kids who were tremendous athletes and loved basketball and football, but they could not catch a baseball nor did they know how to even hold a baseball bat. No dad was around to show them.

But this is where you come in and if you don’t have any children, teach another child.

Big Homie Working the Tee

So this week’s CSD Homework: Spend just 15 minutes teaching your son or daughter (or the son or daughter of someone else), how to throw a baseball, catch a baseball and hold a bat. That’s it. Even if you aren’t the greatest, or never liked baseball yourself, you likely know at least how to do those things because hopefully someone taught you or you learned it back-in-the-day before video games taught fundamentals.

Let me know how it goes in the comment section below!

CSD

 

Privacy Watch: Xbox & Your Data – “Sorry Sir, You’re Too Fat To Order The Meat Lovers Pizza and All You Do Is Play Video Games…”

As I mentioned on this post, I take privacy a bit more seriously than most people. This is simply because in my Clark Kent life, I know the power of data and how valuable it is. People will pay top dollar for information about you because we live in a society that values the “personal touch”. It’s just not enough to market baseball (shout out to the Oakland A’s as they made the 3rd greatest comeback in MLB history to clinch the AL West!), but they want to market the exact team that we pull for with the exact products we buy at the exact level of our disposable income. At no time in history has this been possible, until now.

So I’m glad to see this video still making the rounds on the internet. I first saw it about 8 years ago, when I was amazed that the pizza place knew who we were when we called to order one Friday night. It was funny then, but it’s becoming more prophetic now. I’ve heard people say, “It doesn’t matter anyway…”, but yes it does if you care about your wallet. It’s not that companies are just making money off your information, but they are charging YOU more money based on the data that they find. Don’t believe me? Okay, skip next month’s electric bill and look at the impact it has on your credit score. Then watch that credit score then impact your insurance premium. If things get really tight, watch that insurance premium impact your employment-eligibility for certain job positions. The dominoes just keep falling and falling…

I may not agree with many positions of the ACLU, but I think they got this one right:

Let me also mention the device that we purchased for our Xbox Kinect. It’s called the Pritect Sensor Cover and it sells online for less than $10! It’s well worth it knowing that Microsoft isn’t using the information (and video!) that it collects while my kids play the Xbox or monitoring the movies we play…Netflix already knows all that.

Uh boy…

Oh yea, don’t believe me on the Xbox Kinect? Take a look at these screen shots I took while changing the settings that are WIDE OPEN BY DEFAULT. Plus, finding your privacy settings isn’t nearly as easy as finding all of the other meaningless items they plaster on the dashboard.

 

CSD

CornerstoneDad Podcast #12 – Say Your Love, Show Your Love!

Catching up after a long break! We talk about where I’ve been and what’s been going on.

Plus:

– Life Action Summit and what it has done for me.

– Which comes first, the sports our kids play or the family?

– Best CSD Driveway EVER…Gullwing, CTS-V, Vette and GT-R!

– Main Topic – Do you tell and show your kids that you love them?

Plus, I wonder why a kid sporting $400 LeBron James gym shoes…is riding the bus!

Check out the podcast by clicking HERE-PODCAST #12

 

CornerstoneDad Podcast #11 – Free Labor, Free Education or Just A Lack of Freedom?

Kory Devon and I discuss the latest happenings in the sports world and try to come to an agreement on whether college athletes should get paid (legally) or not. What do you think? Sound off and let us know in the comments section!

This was actually recorded before podcast #10, so please go back and check out that episode if you’d like to hear a continuation of our discussion.

Click Podcast #11 to listen!