25 comments

Eulogy to a Great Dad

I normally wouldn’t share a personal email from an MMM reader, but yesterday I got a really inspiring one about what it means to lead a good life as a parent, and I asked the writer’s permission to publish it and he agreed.

I think it’s a great one to share because it shows the impact a Dad can have on his kids by leading an honest life, and how the values he lives by, rather than the amount of material things he buys in the process of supporting a family, are what counts. All of us who are dads need regular inspiration to keep our priorities straight in our most important job, and this guy provides a mountain of it.

Comments: Hey Mr. Money Mustache,

Back in August, my dad passed away at the too-young age of 62. However, in the decades before he died, he made damn sure that he was free to pursue whatever career he wanted and leave just as quickly if need be. By living simply, buying things with cash, and laughing in the face of the lure of material goods, he raised seven kids while my mom was able to stay home and take care of us.

He sold cars honestly, and when they told him he couldn’t do it that way anymore, he gave them a wry smile and with his signature sarcastic goodbye salute went to run a soup kitchen. When the soup kitchen board told him he had to start collecting the personal info of all his clients, he said “I’m not going to take the last thing some of these people have left.” He then started as a substitute teacher to evaluate a teaching career, and when it turned out the school district requires teachers to pass a certain number of students, even if they were failing, he reckoned he couldn’t do that either. However, he saw he could make a difference in the lives of some kids by sticking around as a sub. When the cancer finally won, hundreds of students called, emailed, brought food, and came to the funeral to let us know how much their lives had been changed by one simple old man.

He taught his own kids how to raise our own funds through smarts and hard work. So we bought our own vehicles (I opted for the bike and made bank doing that) and paid for our own educations. He taught us how to fish and grow food so we would never starve. He taught us how to live so that we would never have to sacrifice our integrity or do wrong to others to make ends meet. He taught us how to take what we have and make a difference in this crazy world.

I just want you to know that I found your blog about a month after my dad passed. Every new article you write is like being able to sit down with him again and listen to him cut through the world’s bullshit with an easy knife of humor once again. Thanks for giving me that, and thanks for the lives you’re most certainly influencing for the better.

Thanks very much to the guy who sent me this and allowed me to share it. I’m obviously not deserving of the favorable comparison in the last paragraph, but I can use it as inspiration towards a longer goal – that of earning even half this level of respect from my own son by the time he’s an adult and I’m an Old Man.

  • Kevin M November 14, 2011, 9:32 am

    “listen to him cut through the world’s bullshit with an easy knife of humor once again.”

    I love this passage. Such a great thing for a Dad to teach his kids. RIP.

    Reply
  • rjack November 14, 2011, 10:15 am

    “I’m obviously not deserving of the favorable comparison in the last paragraph…”. Actually, MMM, I think you are deserving. I really appreciate your excellent, provocative, thoughtful and most of all useful posts.

    Reply
  • Anna November 14, 2011, 11:42 am

    That is the kind of person I want to be.

    Reply
    • IAmNotABartender December 18, 2014, 11:02 am

      Same.

      Reply
  • Frugal Vegan Mom November 14, 2011, 11:43 am

    What a wonderful letter. Here’s hoping there are still many people in this country who will raise their kids like that.

    Reply
  • Shawn November 14, 2011, 11:54 am

    What a great letter! No job is more important than that of a good husband and father. This man certainly exemplified what many of us are striving for.

    Reply
  • achipres November 14, 2011, 2:03 pm

    This was very inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I feel guilty that my older two dds are having to pay for their own university education, so it was great to hear from a man that was thankful his dad made him pay for his own education.

    I asked my two daughters, who are lifeguards and make $17 per hour during the summer months, what their lifeguarding friends do with their money when their parents pay for their university. The response I got was they drink and party all summer long with their “spending money.”

    Reply
  • Lynn November 14, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Wow. My throat is closing; really touching eulogy. What an inspiration! You are, too, every read. Thank you.

    Reply
  • mike crosby November 14, 2011, 2:44 pm

    I read another blog about what it means to be a real man. This man’s father was a real man.

    Reply
    • BDub November 14, 2011, 4:34 pm

      Art of Manliness, perhaps?

      Reply
      • Don November 14, 2011, 10:55 pm

        I was thinking the same thing. Art of Manliness FTW.

        Reply
  • Chris November 14, 2011, 4:10 pm

    Great Post!

    Reply
  • C40 November 14, 2011, 9:09 pm

    I’ve felt similarly when reading or listening to Harry Browne. Kind of like having a grandfather impacting a lifetime of learnings and experiences.

    Great work with the blog MMM. Keep it up.

    Reply
  • Don November 14, 2011, 10:57 pm

    This post is really motivating. I hope to leave my son with such teachings. I also want him to know how to change a tire, build an engine, read Aristotle, understand reformed theology and shoot a tight group.

    Reply
  • Nuno André November 15, 2011, 12:41 am

    Fabulous, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • oskar November 15, 2011, 1:23 am

    Great, we need more dad’s like that…hope I can be one to my kids!

    Reply
  • Yabusame November 15, 2011, 2:53 am

    I try to show my step son what it means to be a real man. A man whose word is his bond. To tell the truth, regardless of the consequences. To trust in one’s own abilities, but not be so stubborn as not to ask for help when it’s needed. I think that reader’s father was like that too.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • Pablo November 15, 2011, 7:02 pm

    This article made me cry. It was so touching.

    Reply
  • Berta November 16, 2011, 8:08 am

    Loved his letter. At the time, kids might cry “it’s not fair” but often later on they come to appreciate the values they were taught. Given an example of how to live life on your terms & not be beholden to anyone is priceless. You give up your freedom if you have to stay at a job you hate just to pay for stuff you don’t need.

    My sympathies to him for losing his Dad so young. Now I miss him too, but he will live on in all the people he has touched

    Reply
  • Tuan November 16, 2011, 8:31 am

    This was touching. Integrity is honorable bc every fiber of our being fights against it.

    Reply
  • misha November 16, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Made me cry too! How inspiring. Thank you for such and awesome blog.

    Reply
  • Carrie Hetu November 17, 2011, 6:04 am

    This was beautiful, I am happy he agreed to let you share such an inspiring post and yes I think you are deserving as one thing I have always loved about your blog was the values you stand by. This man was very blessed to have such a wonderful father as a role model!

    Reply
  • Daniel Vachalek December 2, 2011, 9:11 am

    I think you are most certainly deserving of that man’s kind words. Keep up the great work with this blog! You are an inspiration to many younger couples like my fiance and myself- couples who just graduated in this crazy economy, trying to find any type of job and make ends meet.

    Reply
  • Jaclyn December 6, 2011, 8:14 am

    This is sweet. My dad was a bit more rough around the edges then this and I paid for my own education mostly because we were poor, not because he was teaching me life lessons (although, I guess ultimately he was!), but my dad worked very hard up until the day he died. When he passed away, at 50, everything he owned was paid off except for a small house loan. Because of his hard work, my husband and I now have a small amount of money set aside to help with a downpayment on our first home. Through his example, I am currently struggling to become debt free so that my family will not be burdened by the poor financial choices I have made in my past.

    Reply
  • Darden July 27, 2013, 5:27 am

    Few of us are served the plate in life we would have ordered. But having said that, one thing remains clear: you can never give a man anything without stealing some portion of his sense of self-worth. In order to maintain a sense of self-worth, all must be earned!

    Reply

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