“I am guided by spiritual practices I don’t name as such: generosity, the impulse to give as much of myself as I can, respect for the beliefs of others, non-judgment, support and devotion to even the simplest forms of life  …” — Alma For Ada,  IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE

One Saturday afternoon when I was about eight years old, I went with my Dad on a house call to repair a furnace. He was a mechanical and electrical engineer, an inventor and problem-solver at heart, who channeled his creativity into designing and building heating and air conditioning systems for residential and commercial clients. Always one to help a friend in need,  Dad received a call early that morning from a long term client whose furnace had gone on the fritz in the middle of the night. Would he come over, the man asked, and see what he could do?

Dad needed an “assistant” and I volunteered for the job. I remember walking next to him up the driveway to the back of his client’s house. I remember a man coming to the door and ushering Dad inside; being told to play on a gray cement patio. I remember he was gone a long time. After a while, i heard his muffled voice inside the house. The screen door slid opened and Dad walked outside. I remember the tears in his eyes.

He stepped past me onto the patio, averted his gaze and headed quickly down the driveway. I ran after him trying to catch him, to keep pace. I grabbed hold of his thick, freckled hand. I was desperate to know what had made my Daddy cry.

When we reached the car he opened the passenger door and motioned me into the front seat. As I settled into my place beside him, he looked at me and sighed. “I remember the days when a man’s handshake was his word,” he said. That was all he said. He got into the car and we rode quietly home.

I never found out the specific nature of that breach of trust. But I remember to this day the value of a promise.

A father’s tears.  A daughter’s standard. In this way I honor my father.

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