My story (cont.)
I learned what I thought was a lot about right and wrong when I was a child. I thought I also learned a lot of good lessons. We were very polite children for the most part. We were what I considered a religious family. We went to church every Sunday. My mother ended up later in life becoming director of Christian Education for that same church we grew up in. So that may tell you a little about our upbringing.
But we learned most of our real lessons from our father. Unfortunately not the father above. Now my dad was what I consider a good man. He worked very hard as an insurance agent specializing in Agricultural things like crop insurance which then led to getting the farmers' business for their home, auto, and life. He was very skilled not so much in sales but in delivering customer satisfaction. You see his work ethic led him to study corn future prices, cattle future prices. All kinds of topics that only farmers really pay attention to. But he wanted to be able to talk shop with them and show genuine interest in their business.
But by and far what earned him the most business and total customer loyalty were those devastating spring storms that the Midwest is so famous for. Not just tornadoes but hail storms, wind storms, flooding. You see when a storm came through in the middle of the night Larry was the first one out after it. He was great friends with the claims adjuster in the office and they would leave in the middle of the night to go to his client farms in the dark, in the mud, at all hours to check on their crops. Now who heard of a suit and tie paper pushing insurance salesman showing up at your farm in boots tramping around in your field to assess the damage and get a claim started at 4:00 am in the morning?
This impressed most of them and it didn't take long for word to spread in that close knit community of farmers that Larry gave the best service above and beyond in the business. I learned a lot about business from watching him. I wanted to be just like him when I was growing up...like most children look up to there father. Unfortunately many of the choices I made when I entered the business world my father would have never made.
Business skills weren't the only thing I learned from Larry. I should explain the Larry thing. See when we were growing up we spent a lot of time with babysitters and my grandparents. I guess they all referred to my parents as Audrey and Larry and we just picked it up. As long as I can remember they were always Audrey and Larry and they didn't seem to mind me calling them that because they never said anything so it stuck. Now a lot of people around us growing up were appalled that we addressed them by their first name. But we never changed.
Many of the other skills I learned form Larry included the basics or they used to be the basics. Yes mam, no mam. Yes sir, no sir. Please and thank you. Opening doors for women including our mother and our sister. In general respect for others. In fact as long as I can remember as a child the big event of the week was Friday night at the country club. All of the local elite would be there for dinner. It was what I considered at the time to be a very eloquent dining room. We would show up in our Sunday best all five of us. The place would be packed. Everyone knew everyone else. The local business men in the community would come by our table and greet my father and our family. They would spend a few minutes talking small talk, discussing light amounts of business. Making a few jokes before moving a long to the next table. Larry would also make the rounds, shaking hands, kissing the wives on the cheek.
We children got to know almost everyone on a first name basis. And boy those older folks really took a liking to us. That might be because we were the only children in the place. The reason for that is everyone else got babysitters for their kids on Friday night. My parents waited till Saturday night for that. I'm pretty sure the reason for that was Larry loved showing off his family. How well behaved and proper his children were in public. That was the other reason there weren't any other children there our age. You see the place was packed. The service was horrific. We sometimes had to wait as long as an hour to eat and we usually didn't even get there till seven. Now not many five year old kids could sit still that long. But not a peep out of us. No temper tantrums. No whining. No running around.
That is because we knew better. You see Larry was also a very strict disciplinarian. There were plenty of spankings to go around. And all it took was a slight raise of or sternness in his voice with that look that shot through you like needles for us to know to pipe down. I guess we were pretty smart kids because it usually didn't take us too many times of screwing up to learn our lesson.
Now I don't want to make this blog for or against corporal punishment of children. That is a whole different debate for a different time but I can tell you as strict as Larry was there was never a spanking I didn't have coming to me. You see every time I received a spanking I knew why I was getting it. In fact the thing I did before I got caught misbehaving I probably knew was going to earn me on of those hands across my butt...if not more than one. It didn't take a whole lot of spankings before I didn't do bad things anymore. The moral of this is that I sometimes wish today I knew that I had my dad to spank me before I made a choice. Because I probably would have made a different decision.
I told you my mother ended up being the director of Christian education at our church although when I was very much older. But to describe by mother to strangers I used to always tell people That if she and Mother Theresa died and they were both standing at the pearly gates but St. Peter could only let one of them in....I'm not sure which one he would pick but I know he'd have one hell of a decision. I'm sorry I couldn't pardon the pun.
Audrey was so caring so kind. There isn't a mean bone in her body. Everyone in our town loved her and so did we. Everyone in town knew her. It was a small town and her family had been there for ever. Literally they owned the first stage coach stop in town. She was a popular cheerleader, near the top of her class. Active in local events and church. But what seemed most important to her in life was being a Mom. For most of our childhood she was a stay at home mom. She proofread books but she could do that at home.
Like I said we spent most of our days either at school or outside. Now I'm not really sure what Audrey did all the time. She was a stay at home mother. But she didn't take us to school. I already told you that we spent the majority of our summers alone at the country club. We had to ride the bus to and from school for the most part. We had a cleaning lady for most of my childhood because if we didn't our house would have been a disaster. So I'm not sure if proofreading took all of her time. I mean they were really big books. Mostly medical books and journals written in languages like Russian and Spanish. Or maybe it was her volunteering with the church or the heart society or whatever charity or event that she couldn't say no to.
But when we were with her she was great. There was no problem having all the neighborhood kids to the house to play or for a snack. We were a little spoiled by her. I hardly recall a time walking in to Wal-Mart when we didn't walk out with some new toy. She took us to McDonalds for Happy Meals often. We had a great relationship with our mother and loved her very much. However we would treat her differently than Larry. Even though we loved her in some case I would say more than Larry we didn't give her the respect we gave him. See she was so sweet. She could hardly raise her voice and when she did she was normally bluffing. In the very extreme circumstance and I mean maybe once maybe twice in my life she paddled me with a flimsy almost cardboard paddle. You know the ones with the rubber band that's attached to a ball.
How come then I would make choices around her that I would never make around Larry? Is it because the bad choices I made would never result in the consequences that they would if Larry was around? But if I loved her more how could I disrespect her more. How come the people you are closest with or love the most you are willing to hurt the most with the choices you make?