Thursday, September 3, 2015
“The difference between ordinary men and extraordinary men is that little extra called hard work.” ― James Johnson
My father, Frank Wiggins, was one of the hardest working men I have ever known. He took care of his family and the lawn and the boat and everything else that needed work. He left early in the morning and didn’t come home till late at night. Because he never finished high school he taught himself retailing and marketing at night. He walked fast, too. I could never keep up with him as he was walking through one of the many Sears stores that he managed. My wife’s father, Clayton Lusby, was another of those old-school, hard working men who didn’t want to have anyone else help him. He had cancer for years and a number of operations including the removal of his bladder. After that operation, he was still working as a moving man and helped a man put a big, heavy package in the trunk of his car. As the man seemed perfectly healthy, he told Karen’s dad that he would have helped him but he had had his bladder removed a two years ago. Karen’s Dad didn’t even look up, but as he closed the trunk, he said, “Yup, I had that operation, too, just six weeks ago.” I could never live up to the standards that those men set when it came to hard work, but I did the best I could. I never liked to have anyone else do something I could do for myself and asking for help was one of the hardest things I ever had to do and still is. About a month before my father died of leukemia at the age of 89, he drove us all to church and then barbecued chicken for the family out on the back deck. He even once put a catheter in himself (new definition of a real man) when he had the same prostate problem I did, only I would never have tried to do that to myself. He and my father-in-law, Clayton Lusby, set the bar pretty high for me to ever reach when it came to hard work. After explaining the many problems with traveling from here to New York and back, I didn’t say that I will be 71 in a month or so or that because of my bad feet (diabetes) I have to be in a wheelchair from the ticket desk onto the plane and can’t even lift my own luggage. I am in pain 24 hours a day, but so are a lot of people my age. Nor did I mention that because of my prostate surgery, I have to visit the loo every twenty to forty minutes which can become a real problem on flights of seven to fifteen hours, especially since airplanes aren’t noted for their abundance of bathrooms. About the only thing that is making this trip a reality is knowing that my father and my father-in-law would both have done it without complaint because it needed doing. They also loved their families so much that they endured many surgeries and physical limitations so that their families wouldn’t suffer. I share with my father a condition that gradually turns our hands into claws. Dad was able to have surgery so that he could at least hold a golf club. He played golf into his eighties. I will just have to watch it happen, but it’s going very slowly at present. Karen’s dad had to wear a colostomy bag for years, but you never heard him make a single complaint about anything. The only time I ever heard him swear was when his wife was trying to get him to cut off branches on the christmas tree until it suited her. I am truly blessed for having such great role models and only hope I have passed on just some of that to my sons. Yes, the trip I’m facing is long and tedious, and I slightly nervous as I am no longer the strong man I once was. When I made the trip to Boston two years ago just after breaking my coccyx and having prostate surgery, my professor said I had made an heroic trip, but I was just doing what my father or father-in-law would have done. I will gratefully accept the help I’m given (I don’t even drive any more) and will try to remember how much I liked helping others who needed me and the help my two dads gave to others as well. Thanks to both my dads, I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I would, and because of them, I will make this trip to try to add some more years to my service to others and to be here for my family. It's what they would have done.