Reflections of an Honorable Man: Things My Parents Taught Me
It’s almost the end of the year and I’m looking back at all that has happened. Like most years, 2023 brought a mixed bag of events — some happy and some sad. It seemed as though we attended more memorial services this year than in the previous five years together.
The most meaningful one for our family was the service for my dear father-in-law, Garland Campbell. He was one of the most good and honorable men I have ever known, and I’m grateful for his presence in my life. After his passing, my husband found among his possessions two handwritten pages entitled “Things I Learned from My Parents.” Before I share those simple reflections, let me tell you a bit about his life.
Garland was born in 1934 on a small farm with no indoor plumbing, located in the hills of Virginia. He remembered riding with his father in a wagon, taking corn and grain to be milled; hunting, trapping, and fishing with his brother for food and furs; and courting a pretty redhead named Lottie Mae who became his wife of 68 years.
It wasn’t an easy life — three of his siblings died as children — but he was able to graduate from high school and began a career at the DMV that lasted nearly five decades. Garland loved music, and spent many happy hours playing the guitar and harmonica and singing gospel songs with family and friends. At church, he enjoyed sharing stories from the Old Testament, with simple applications.
Stability, faithfulness, and generosity marked his life and influenced those around him. Since his passing, we’ve heard countless stories about his life — from friends, neighbors, and coworkers — and the inevitable result has been thinking about the kinds of stories we hope our children will one day hear about us.
But what was it about his childhood that helped Garland become the man he was? Here in his own words are some of the life lessons his parents taught him.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men . . .
Things I learned from my parents by Garland Campbell
Early in life I was taught to be honest, truthful, and polite. I was taught to respect authority and to respect the property of others. I was also taught to be punctual.
The following are some of the things I was taught, mainly by my father. He assured me that hard work would not kill me. No matter the season, dad always found work to be done. He did not like for his sons to have idle time.
I was taught how to care for the farm animals and poultry. I was taught what to do and what not to do and to recognize what things in their environment could be harmful or fatal to them, such as certain weeds, trees, shrubs, and predators.
I was taught how to prepare the soil for planting and the proper time to plant and harvest. I learned how to build and make repairs to the many implements used in agriculture.
I was taught how to use a firearm safely. I was taught how to catch trout fish and the correct bait to use, though I did not get to do this very often.
My dad taught me how to build box traps and how to set a snare to catch rabbits.
(back to farming)
Sometimes on the farm you learned through trial and error. The result of learning by error didn’t go over too well. I was slow in learning how to load the hay wagon properly (had to reload once). It had to be loaded properly so as not to lose the load while traveling over rough and hilly roads for a couple of miles.
Another difficult task was to create a neat and straight hay stack around a 20’ pole in such a way that would shed rainwater in order to preserve it.
I am thankful for the things I was taught by my parents during childhood. They have greatly benefitted me throughout my adult years.
These old-fashioned life lessons of hard work, self-discipline, and consideration for others bore so much fruit, not only in Garland’s life, but in the lives of those he touched during his 89 years, including his sons. I’m grateful to have become a part of his family, and I hope that this little glimpse of an honorable life will be inspiring for you as you raise your own family.
To me, it’s encouraging to be reminded that the things of lasting value that we offer our children aren’t really things — they are mostly attitudes, habits, and ways of being. Cultivating those things in our children means cultivating them in our own lives, too, which can be the biggest challenge if we didn’t grow up with such teaching. Thankfully, we are blessed with the opportunity for learning and guidance from scripture, books (I have especially benefited from books by C. S. Lewis and Charlotte Mason), podcasts, and other resources.
I hope that in your homeschooling journey you will also find friends who encourage and uplift you and can share the joys and difficulties of this life. I wish you joy in the journey!
A thoughtful friend has posted a video of the memorial service for my father-in-law — it was a blessing to hear memories of this faithful and steadfast man from all areas of his life. He will be missed.