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You get to choose your role model

Last week, I searched for a picture of myself in my young 20s to meet some silly Facebook challenge. I dug up a photo from a volunteer trip to Appalachia in 1974. I was 22 years old.

I wrote a short paragraph telling the story of how I came to pose for that particular picture. I mentioned that my father had gotten the notion in his head in 1968 to pack up his family and go down to Appalachia to volunteer for a week. That was just like my dad. Passionate about service – hands-on, fingernails dirty, helping your fellow man service. It was a formative experience for me that year, and it turned into an annual trip with various family, friends, cousins and anyone else who wanted to volunteer and join us. The photo was taken on my seventh trip. To my surprise it garnered a lot of responses. Some people commented on the photo but many more commented on my dad.

This week it will be 41 years ago that Dad died at what I now consider the young age of 58. I often wonder what else he’d have accomplished had he lived into his 60s and his 70s and his 80s. But that didn't happen and so I'm left with my imagination and my memory.

I am no more responsible for my parents’ successes or failures than my children are for theirs. None of us are. However, we all get to choose to follow any example that we like. Whatever shortcomings my father had, he had many admirable strengths. I didn't have to look far for a good role model. We all get to choose our role models. Look around you. Find people whose manner and behavior you admire and let emulating their good practices guide you to your best self.

I remember my dad this week and trust that he rests in the joyful comfort of eternal peace and love.


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