My dad was a school principal for thirty plus years of his life. Teaching and being with his students was his life. Education was everything. It did not matter whether you were a ditch digger or a doctor, he expected you to be productive and do something with your life. I can’t begin to tell you how many lives he influenced over the years. I can tell you that throughout my life, his students and friends came in and out of our home seeking Dad’s guidance. It was not unusual to come home from school and have my bedroom taken by someone needing a little help or have a several kids at the dinner table getting fed a lot more than food. Often he took whole a neighborhood of kids to the Friday night football game. Sometimes he bought clothes or groceries for families when on a teacher’s salary raising four kids of his own was not an easy task. He never passed an opportunity to teach, to share his philosophy of life, to push a student toward success in life.
With Dad’s death in December, we got several phone calls from people whom he helped over the years. There were so many of his students (all ages) at the funeral telling us what Dad had meant to them. We got emails from his students telling us how Dad had helped them– it was awesome.
A few weeks ago, a kid from our past looked up my parent’s phone number and called Mom. He did not know that Dad had died, but he had wanted to tell my parents what they had meant to him. We had not seen or heard from Dale in about thirty years (no longer a kid, huh), but it was great to hear from him. Dale had been like part of our family when we were little. Mom often said she wanted to "keep" Dale for her own. Dale said he had felt like he was a part of our family – that we had loved him like that. He even remembered how all the neighborhood kids would line up down the sidewalk when Dad got home from work. We took turns running to Dad who would pick us up and swing us around. It is kind of a funny thing to share your dad with other kids, but that is just what we did and thought it was normal.
Here is Dale’s email in his words:
I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know again how much I enjoyed hearing from you. Even though years have come and gone there are some people that touch your live in ways that last a lifetime. You and your family have always been in my heart. Even though we didn't communicate over the years I never forgot you guys and I'm grateful that you haven't forgotten me. If ever there would have been a family that I would have wanted to be adopted by it would have been yours. I never felt out of place in your home. Thank you for sharing a portion of your lives with me. I tried to convey to your mother the very same sentiment the other day. Some people go through live putting others first and never hear the effects they have had on those they have touched. I only wish I would have made that call to you mother sooner. Be sure to pass my e-mail address on to your mom and please keep in touch. Again it was a joy speaking with you, May God Bless and Keep you and yours!
Dad loved you too, Dale.