ten years...ten lessons...

(1968) Trying to walk...always with my Dad supporting me...
He is still with me, holding me up.
It has been ten years since God took my father home to Him. Ten years since I heard his booming voice or his raucous laughter. Ten years since I have held his hand or bowed my head with his in prayer. It has been ten years since I have watched him sit with one of his grandchildren and read them a story or teach them how to play chess. It's been ten years since I have seen him blow a bubble with his Mr. Bubble bubblegum.

Ten years and yet it feels like it was yesterday.

I have written about my father's love of laughter and  of his faith and love of country and family. I have written about my fathers hands and how much I miss him. My mother tells me all the time that of any of her eight children, I resemble him and his personality the most. I think of that often. It is something that motivates me to get up and act even on my worst day.

You see most people would ask "What would Jesus do?" in my house it's "What would Daddy do?" No disrespect to Our Father in heaven at all. It's just easier for me to actually hear the answer to the question in my Dad's voice than in God's.

You never forget your Daddy's voice, especially when he used all THREE names at once!

As I was contemplating this day, I got to thinking about lessons my Father taught me. There were so many that it was difficult to narrow them down. So I said a prayer asking him what he thought were the most important ones and these are what came to my heart.
My First Communion...May 1975...
Mom was pregnant with #8, my sister M. 

Life According to Joe "Red" Green:
1. Never lose faith.
Believe with firm assurance that God exists and He loves you with everything He's got. Even when you doubt God knows your name, He is with you encouraging you to feel His loving arms supporting you. "God chose this time and place for you, so make the most of it." was said often in our home. I think of it everyday. 

2. Whenever you have a question, go to Mother Mary. She will know.
My father had an incredibly strong devotion to the Blessed Mother. He prayed the Rosary daily and we always prayed it as a family on Sundays after supper. Whenever I had a big decision to make and I would seek his counsel, Dad would point me toward Our Lady. "I don't know a thing," he would say. "She has the ear of God. She'll know what you need." Thank you Daddy for one of the most profound lessons of my life.

3. LOVE with all your heart. 
I remember when I was getting married, my Dad sat me down and told me to never hold back in my marriage. He encouraged me to trust my husband with my heart fully and completely. "Love with all you've got and he will love you the same in return". He told me that with God's guidance, my husband would always love and protect me as well as lead our family with honor and integrity. Twenty-three years later, he could not have been more right.

4. Expect the unexpected. 
"Life is one surprise after another, so expect the unexpected, and you'll never really be surprised" he would say. I laugh when I think of this now. My life has been filled with surprises, most of them of the "unexpected" variety. I don't get as wrapped up in the drama of each one as I used to. I guess practice makes perfect. LOL!

5. Stand tall and speak the truth. 
I had issues with lying when I was younger. They landed me in a lot of hot water and I spent many hours in confession due to my fantastical storytelling. Every time I was caught not telling the truth my father would hang his head and tell me how each lie made me appear "smaller" to people. Each lie would chip away at my character and integrity, making it harder for people to trust me. If I would just stand tall and speak the truth then life would be so much easier for me. No truer words were spoken and I pray I am the woman of honor today he wanted me to be.

6. LAUGH...often. 
"Life is hard and filled with many sorrows,"he would say. "So laugh whenever you can." He encouraged me to smile everyday and keep joy in my heart. It will see you through all the bad stuff. This is my favorite memory of my Dad...his loud raucous laugh. Oh do I miss this glorious sound. He was right. I makes most days bearable. 

7. Fake it 'til you make it. 
Confidence was something my father had in spades. However it wasn't always that way. He struggled when he was younger and had many heart to hearts with his own mother about confidence and courage in any situation. Over time he came to believe it and it was something he hammered into us as young people. "You might not be the smartest person in the room, but if you smile and remain humble than you can accomplish anything you set your mind to and garner the respect of those around you. God gave you talent and it's up to you to use every bit of it whether you think you can or not. Fake it 'til you make it."

8. Smile like a donkey eating thistles. Never let them see you sweat.
"Life is not meant to be easy, " he would say. "But if we keep a positive attitude throughout any situation, no matter how difficult, you will get through it." I can hear his voice right now saying this. He faced many difficult things in his life. He survived Vietnam only to battle cancer for nine years that was caused from exposure to Agent Orange during the conflict. My father was a fighter who saw life as a series of battles in a great war. Sometimes you won, sometime you lost but there was a lesson in everything. So smile baby smile and eventually this too shall pass. I'm smiling Daddy...cam you see me?

9. You are who you surround yourself with
My Dad was blessed with many friends in his life, his best friend being my mother. He was always conscious of who we spent time with. He would say "If you spend time with people who don't believe in God you'll either be a saint or an atheist" or "If you spend time with people who drink and do drugs then you'll either be a saint or a user." I am happy to say that I'm an neither an atheist nor a user. I am still working on sainthood. Thanks Dad!
1988 - My wedding day and his 23 wedding anniversary
"No Green quits. EVER!" How many times did I hear this growing up? Two hundred gazillion bajillion...every flippin day. You play to win. You leave everything you have on that field and when the contest is over and the score is not in your favor, it doesn't matter because you gave your all. "You give your all everyday and life will never disappoint you." Whether it was basketball practice or math homework, you don't quit. You persevere.

Yes sir! I promise Daddy, now and always.