Influence Matters

Published: January 28, 2013

By Jim Lichtman
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Our greatest influences come from those closest to us. Here is a story that speaks, not only of the influence a parent can have on a child, but to a community as well.

“In my thirty-three years of life, I can say that I have always had this one constant in my life leading me in the right direction and helping me make the right decision. There were times when I may not have always agreed that this one person was leading me in the right direction, but now that I am older, I can honestly say that the most ethical person I know is my father.

“My father has always been the ‘go-to’ person in my life and has always been my voice of reason. Whether it was helping me make the right career move, school move, parenting, or what car I should buy, my father is really the one person I turn to.

“For my entire life, and thirty years of his life, my father protected and served the Concord, [New Hampshire] Police Department, and if you were to ask me, he was the best damn police officer that ever served in Concord. Of course, I’m a little biased.

“I have many memories of my father showing younger recruits around the town and bringing them home for dinner. My father was not only a huge ethical role model for me; he was also a role model for his peers.

“In the thirty years that my father worked at the police station, he worked hard and long hours. There were days that I would not see him, but my father always found the time to call and ask us how our day was, and if our homework was done. In all those years, he only missed one day of work, and that was because of a family emergency. I can remember hearing my father give advice to his co-workers and they looked up to him, not because he was their superior, but because they really valued what he had to say.

“Growing up, I was your typical teenager who made typical stupid mistakes. But no matter how stupid or how severe the mistake, my father always had a way of straightening me out. It’s funny, looking back on these situations knowing what I now know, I would not change my mistakes because the advice that I received from my father was worth the punishment in the long run.

“I can remember one incident when my friends and I got ourselves into a bit of a ‘situation.’ I can’t really remember exactly how it happened, but one minute we were at a stop sign and the next, there was a man on the hood of our car. The man was riding his bike and somehow my friend, the driver, didn’t see him. His bike was a pretzel under her car.

“My friend burst into tears telling the man that her mom would take her car away from her if she were to find out. The man took pity on her saying that if she promised to pay for the damage to his bike he wouldn’t call the police and press charges. Thinking that it was her lucky day, my friend took him up on his deal. They exchanged phone numbers and we gave the poor guy a ride home.

“The following day, my friend was at our house and she told my dad the story. Even though my father was a police officer all my friends respected him and always went to him for advice. My father informed her that legally, she owed him nothing because he was riding on the wrong side of the road, but morally she should pay for the damage she made to his bike.

“My friend liked the idea of not owing him anything and said she really couldn’t afford to pay for the bike anyway. My father then asked her how she would feel if the roles were reversed, and it was her bike that had been damaged? He said, ‘just because, legally he was wrong doesn’t mean that you are totally right. It’s part of becoming an adult,’ he continued, ‘sometimes the right thing is not always what the law says.’

“Hearing this really made me respect my father even more. Here he is a police office, someone who should stand by the law, yet he was telling her that the law isn’t always the ‘right thing’ to do.

“I really can’t thank my father enough for making me the person that I am today. He has not only guided me to do the right things in everyday life, he has given me the skill to guide my children to become good people. To this day, I still value my father’s advice and still look to him to be my voice of reason. Not only is my father the most ethical person I know, my father is the person I am proud to call my father.”

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