His name was Dr. George Robert Morgan, Jr. (the original Dr. Morgan!). As you can probably tell by this photo, he loved and adored me. And of course my sisters, too.
He was a dentist, and people loved him. He was very successful in his practice, but maybe not for the reason you might think. Oh, I'm sure his dentistry skills were very good. But in my opinion, the reason he was so successful is because people liked him. He was a genuinely kind, loving person. He would talk to every patient as a friend and treated everyone with the utmost respect - whether they were a toddler or 100 years old - or if they were homeless or a millionaire.
He would typically run an hour late because he just spent too much time chatting it up with his patients and making them feel good about themselves. He did things above and beyond what any other dentist or doctor did. For example, he would often send his receptionist to drive elderly patients who didn't have a license anymore to and from the office. And he would reduce or defer dental costs for people who couldn't afford it. All of this is to say one thing ...
He was a really good man.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture with a lot of "deadbeat dads." And there are a lot of deadbeat moms too, that's for sure. But the role of a father has changed over the last several decades. Stereotypically, mothers were the nurturers and fathers were the ones who made the money. And fathers were the "strong and silent" type. Dads of the past didn't always say or do loving things for their children.
But my Dad did.
Oh, how I appreciate that.
"Be careful what you say to your children. Your voice will become their voice someday. So make sure you say positive things about them ... and the world."
That's what my Dad did. He was loving, nurturing, and oh-so-proud of us. I know if I could sit down and have dinner with him again, those would be the first words out of his mouth: "I'm so proud of you, Carol!"
So whether you are already a parent (or grandparent), or if you're just starting to think about the possibility, please take my words to heart:
Be conscious of everything you say and do to children.
Don't speak out of anger. Saying something like "You're a bad boy for doing that, Johnny!" is very different than "Johnny, you're good boy. What you did was wrong, but I know that you will make better choices in the future - I have faith in you." Essentially, the message is the same ("Don't do that again!"). But the long-term effect on the children's psyche is like night and day.
A couple of weeks before my Dad died, I was going through a box of his personal and professional belongings. Wow, that man accomplished a lot with his life! (I think I have a lot of ground to cover before I catch up with him). But the most important thing he accomplished is being a good, kind, respectful, caring human being.
And the best Daddy in the world.
One of the things that I found in the box of his personal belongings was a family crest of the Morgan Clan. And it said, "Onward and Upward." We knew he was dying, so I felt like it was his secret, personal message to me.
He would not want me, or my sisters, or the rest of our family to grieve him forever. Don't get me wrong. We all miss him terribly. But all I can do is continue to make him proud by living his legacy of love.
Onward and upward, Dad.
Onward and upward.
I love you.