Words From My Father – #WOW555

In honor of Father’s Day, the #WOW555 prompt this week is to “honor our dads by including some piece of fatherly advice.” While this isn’t a true story, the advice is some that my father gave often. He didn’t believe in excuses. I’ve had to remember this advice quite a few times and I always smile as I do. This year will mark 10 years since my father’s death, but his advice is one way that he is still with me.

One of the things I hated about being sales manager was these incessant sales meetings. “Yes, you’re doing good.” “No, that’s not right.” “If you can’t handle this, maybe you’d better think of a different line of work.” I thought my previous sales manager liked saying those things. When she got promoted and I took her place, I found out quickly that those were things you had to say whether you liked it or not.

Today was one of the worst meetings, though. My best salesman had gone through a rough time. He decided to explain just went wrong. After listening to his woes for a while, my mind began drifting back to my days playing baseball.

Dad was the coach. When your dad’s the coach you know two things. One is that you will always play. The second is that everyone will think that the only reason you’re playing is because your dad’s the coach. He didn’t want that, and neither did I. He pushed me hard, and I responded by working twice as hard as everyone else. No one, I mean no one, accused my dad of playing me because I was his son. Even I had those days, though. We were playing the worst team in the league and they were kicking us all over the field. We were losing 7-2 and it was the seventh inning. I had committed three errors and had struck out with two men on base and two outs in the first. My other two at bats hadn’t been good either. I wanted to do something to fight back and came to the plate determined.

As the first pitch flew towards the plate, my eyes widened and I smiled a bit. This was MY pitch. I stepped into the swing just as the ball started tailing in. As I swung, the ball hit me on the knuckles and then bounced off my ankle. I don’t know which was worse: the frustration over the game or the pain. I collapsed, holding my ankle and fighting back tears. The umpire looked at me and waved my dad over. He walked in from the third base coach’s box, taking his time.

He squatted down to look at me. I think he knew that I was more frustrated than hurt. “Do we need to take you to the hospital, son?” Others might not have recognized the sarcasm, I did.

“No sir.” He knew me well enough to know that I was fighting back the tears.

He stood up and looked at me sternly. “Well, then, spit on it, rub some dirt in it and get back in the game. Don’t you dare quit on me. This thing ain’t over yet.” He turned and walked back to the coach’s box.

I don’t think the ump thought too highly of my dad at that point in time. But I stood up, rubbed the areas that were hurt, and stood tall in the batter’s box again.

Hector brought me back to the present as he finished his complaints. “So what should I do, sir?”

“Hector, your skills are still there. It’s only your ego that’s bruised. So spit on it, rub some dirt on it and get back in the game. Don’t you dare quit on me!”