My dad was an eternal optimist. He walked on the sunny side of the street. My folks emigrated here from The Netherlands in 1956 with $256 in their pockets and my younger brother and me in tow. They came here for the opportunity (not guarantee) to pursue the American Dream. My dad always said that in this country you could become anything that you wanted to become if you were willing to work for it. And, boy did he work.
He worked in a paper mill, painted houses, swept floors and did whatever he needed to do to give my siblings and me a leg up in the world. No job was beneath him and he always said that any honest job was worth doing well. He always, and I mean ALWAYS wore a long-sleeved white shirt – even while painting! He hated sloppiness.
He taught himself English. He earned the American Dream. He loved to read and he loved to laugh. Whenever he was met with a setback (and there were many) he’d say “keep on smiling.” He didn’t suffer fools and he loved a good joke. And when he laughed, he’d get you laughing by the way he laughed. I sure miss that laugh.
Dad was my biggest supporter. I was the oldest and first to go to college. He was proud of that. When I graduated and started my career in business he shared my dream of where it would take me. Years later, Dad came to visit me in Washington DC. We had dinner together in an Indonesian restaurant. Dad loved Indonesian food, the spicier the better. He acquired his taste while serving in the Dutch army in Indonesia after World War II. And, the Indonesian owner of the restaurant spoke Dutch. It was like a reunion. We ended up closing the place.
My dad left this planet much too soon. He was a kind, generous man who smoked too many cigarettes. Today, when I’m confronted with disappointments or setbacks I ask myself, “what would Dad do?” The answer comes quickly. "Count your blessings, laugh … and, keep on smiling.” Thanks Dad!