Father's Day and a Bookcase

Hi Everyone!

Today I reflect on my father and his positive impact upon my life. My father is a man of few words; he lives by example. He has always worked hard and continues to work in his early 80s in addition to his gardening and work around the house.

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Me as a toddler with my dad.

When the four of us (my three sisters and I) were growing up, our dad was often working overtime at a furniture factory, where he was a quality inspector. After working all day at the factory, we would work well after dark with our crops for extra money to have a nice Christmas holiday. Dad would allow us kids to play sports in school or pursue other activities, other than that, we were to work with him in the field. I think now that the "work unless you participate in the community" rule was a way for us to become involved, learn success as well as failure, and realize the necessity of getting along with others.

When I was growing up as a youngster, I always felt safe with Dad in the house. Some of my earliest memories are sitting on his lap learning to read "Little Golden Books" well before entering kindergarten. The amazing thing is that a man with an 8th grade education (as well as my Mom) saw the immense value of learning to read…early. I remember Dad teaching me about raising chickens, tending a garden, fixing up our old cars as a teenager (not so much there, I was too stubborn to listen unless I needed his help). Finally, the project that I will cherish for the remainder of my life--the weekend that we built a bookcase together in my late 20s. 

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The bookcase as it stands in my apartment now, full of medical books and doo-dads!

I didn't realize the importance of that project at the time. I never liked woodworking much and Dad and I weren't exactly close at that point in our lives. No animosity, we are just both strong-willed and somewhat stubborn men and each had our idea of how to live as an adult. We spent the entire weekend working cooperatively on the bookcase from only a hand-drawn sketch. No griping, arguing over measurements, or creative disagreements--just a vision and the beauty of the finished project--both the bookcase project and our relationship as adults. I've never told Dad how much that project meant, I reckon I will someday.

Dad's (and again Mom's) insistence that we kids learn to read when we were just "young'uns" has stayed with my sisters and me. For myself, I think the fun of reading with my Dad translated into a passion for the written word and a thirst for learning that has me here, at NUHS on my third career! Believe me, we get our share of reading here!

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Dad in his garden last year.

Now, as an older student at NUHS, I try to share the lessons that my dad taught me, through example, by living as an expression of his work ethic, sharing, patience, understanding, and guidance where I can with my colleagues and friends. His lesson of 'leveling' the highs of success and lows of failure has been perhaps the most applicable lesson while here in med school. 

I am grateful for my father, his work ethic and insistence that his children learn in areas he never did. I am grateful for my father's appreciation of all human beings, creatures and kindness toward others. I am grateful every day that I am the son of Roscoe Ammons of Mars Hill, North Carolina.