My Dad is an intelligent, hardworking, achieving, model citizen who is always concerned about others' well being. If it was in his power to help someone he did it. Whether he picked-up someone and gave them a ride (even if he really didn't have the time), loaned money to a person and waited for repayment, or just gave money to someone in trouble with no expectation of the loan being repaid, my Dad has developed into an iconic person for me and family members, if not for others too.
Throughout the years many people have known and remembered him. Whether driving around our home town or traveling to cities 90-miles away people have been known to throw up a hand and say, “Hello Mr. Bryant”.
Once while traveling half-a-state away we stopped at a “Cracker Barrel” restaurant and before we entered the establishment’s front-door a married couple called out his name and stopped us in the parking lot to talk - for 15 minutes. When we are closer to his home (in his ‘neck-of-the-woods’) the odds are even higher that someone will call out his name.
His acknowledging everyone that calls out, "Hey Mr. Bryant", "What's going on Mr. Bryant?", or "How you doing today Mr. Bryant?" could be considered a full-time job. But no matter what he is doing Dad seems to have a minute for each person; asking how they are doing, what they've been doing or taking the time to start what often turns into a 30-minute discussion about every one's grandchildren.
Another amazing thing about my Dad is that in spite of reaching the official status of "Senior Citizen" he can still recall each person's profession, how many children each has, and an astonishing amount of other details about their life. His Mother Amy was able to remember amazing amounts of details too - up to the last waking moment of her life. I pray that remembering a vast array of details is a family trait. ;-)
His accepting behavior has endeared him to others, while providing my family with a great example of how to act and treat other people.
For all of my younger years Dad coached me or my brother on Little League Baseball teams. He was competitive and we developed a little bit of a competitive side too. I believe his hardworking attitude stuck, both my brother and I will work on a problem until it’s solved. Hard work is a mainstay of my personality, even today I will not stop until a problem is solved and all the work has been completed. Thanks ALOT Dad!!! (Just kidding)
During my adult years I believe we have become much closer and are able to express ourselves to one another. I have developed a better understanding of what his job required, what it took to make a dollar and the struggles he faced as a Dad who took care of his family, while trying to enjoy life too. When I got my first job as a teenage shelf-stocker his work ethic (and my Mother’s, don’t get me started on her influence today) had already been incorporated in me which resulted in hard work, no matter how easy the task might have been. Once again, the hard-worker’s curse!!
In the last few years he has taken more of a retired position, age has a way of doing that (and will do it to all of us, God willing). It’s not that he wanted to retire, if his body would allow it he would work every day. Now I work every day and we talk 3-5 times a week, often while I'm driving home from work. This "reporting-in" update to my parents is part of my normal life (my Mother gets equal time and usually a different part of the report).
Some times he just wants to hear what’s going on, but on occasion he gives me direction, I mean advice. It’s nice to have him listening, but whether listening or giving advice I am refreshed or recharged (sometimes I’m not sure) and ready for another day of work.
I want to thank my Dad for his advice and direction, along with the overall influence he has provided during my life. He taught me to treat each person as a unique individual, that all relations are important and that even when I do not agree with the other person, or others disagree with me that each relation takes work (“work on making it work”). I also want to thank my Dad for encouraging me to pursue my goals and dreams, even when I could not explain myself clearly and probably just confused him. But even if I confused him, he stayed on the telephone listening.
Now, that’s one true measure of my Dad’s character – displaying patience while listening to me talk just because he loves me.