Welcome to AT HOME WITH HARRIET! Each month, our dear, sweet Harriet Hodgson, will share her life with us. She will share writing tips, articles based on 43 years as a freelancer, and articles about current events and issues. You don’t want to miss one episode of AT HOME WITH HARRIET! Because as you can see from the photo below, Harriet has a lot going on!
In honor of FATHER’S DAY, Harriet is sharing a very special post to kick off her new corner of THE PIPELINE…
GIFTS FROM MY FATHER
As Father’s Day approaches, I think of what I learned from my father. I grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, a bedroom community for New York City. We lived in a tract house and were happy there. Though the houses had the same designs, color and landscaping made them different.
My father sold industrial finishes—the linings inside tin cans that prevented the contents of the can, such as tomatoes, from reacting with the metal. He also sold other types of paint. Because my father didn’t have an office, the dining room table served as his office and his basement workbench as his laboratory.
I remember one account clearly. Dad had a client who needed pink paint for doll cheeks. To check color of the paint, Dad set up an assembly line in the driveway, lined up doll heads, and sprayed the cheeks with different shades of pink. Since the doll heads didn’t have eyes yet, the sight was a bit scary for a little girl like me.
Still, I could tell Dad was doing his best. He found the paint color he needed and made the sale. Looking back now, I think I learned to always do my best from my father. I learned other things too.
My father had to drop out of school when he was in eighth grade. His father had died (actually, my father saw his father get killed by a car), his mother was disabled, and Dad had to go to work to support the family. He started out as a message boy in New York City. The message boy evolved into a salesman.
Though we didn’t have much money, my father was a generous person. He donated money and time to the church and gave his sister money when she was in need. In my last year of college Dad bought me a Nash Rambler. It was a used car, a bit worn, but serviceable. As my mother commented, the best thing about the car was the horn. I learned generosity from my father.
Though I had an older brother, he was in the army, and I was the first person in our family to graduate from college. Because we had the highest grades, another student and I led the class into the graduation ceremony. Dad was so proud he burst into tears and had to leave. My father taught me to cry when I am sorrowful and joyful.
The greatest gift my father gave me was persistence. When he had a problem, Dad would sit in his leather chair (nobody else sat in it), brainstorm on solutions, choose the best one, and act on it. Persistence served Dad well in life and it has served me well.
When it comes to writing, I think persistence is as important as talent. Thanks to persistence, I am the author of 42 published books. My father died many years ago and, though I can’t thank him in person, I can thank him now. Thank you, Dad, for your precious gifts—persistence, the courage to cry, generosity, and a work ethic that keeps me going.