As Father’s Day approached, a story about the world’s largest family caught my eye. India’s Ziona Chana, 76, died Sunday but reportedly had 89 children, 39 grandchildren, and 38 wives. I don’t know what kind of work he did but I can’t imagine trying to buy that many clothes, shoes, gallons of milk, and school supplies or providing love and nurture for that many women and children.
The article said he seemed happy, and they lived in a four-story, 100-room house with dorm-style arrangements for the wives outside his bedroom. Again, I can’t wrap my mind around such an arrangement but this Father’s Day, here are five lessons I’ve learned:
#1. I had the world’s best—a dad-dad and a great uncle–and they were my biggest cheerleaders. I miss their wisdom, encouragement, support, laughter, and kindness every day, but their lessons still keep me on an upward path.
My dad liked to spell t-h-i-n-k and hold up his huge fingers for emphasis as he explained how important it is to do your own decision making. He said if you’re going to get in trouble, do it because you want to, not because you followed the crowd.
He’d say, “Cynthie, just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean you should.” Lordy, many a mistake could’ve been avoided if I’d only listened.
#2. What you do today you’ll have to sleep with tonight. I was probably 25 before I got this message fully. They said you know right from wrong—whichever one you choose has consequences. If you lie, cheat, abuse, and mistreat others today, that’s what comes back to you. They never said, “I told you so,” but they were right.
#3. Be loyal and fair and do a day’s work for a day’s pay. These words ought to be etched on every coin and in every workplace. It takes more effort to goof off and look busy than it does to actually do some work. Almost everywhere I’ve been in the last six weeks businesses are crying for help and nobody’s applying.
I don’t know if wages are low, if working conditions are poor, or there’s no dignity in what needs to be done, but my fathers set an amazing example. They farmed and they loved and treated the land kindly, but they also did “public” work. They gave each task 110 percent. Work came before fishing, hunting, or leisure and they took care of their families first. Because of them I’ve never been hungry or denied anything I needed. They took great pride in providing for us and letting us see them pray and attend church.
#4. Fathers are responsible in every way—they don’t just plant seeds, they nurture them, and watch them grow. Making babies is easy–caring for them is much more challenging. Yes, women can teach boys how to be men, but they shouldn’t have to. Moms should be able to trust big boys, uncles, church members, and other role models to teach things they don’t know. In a perfect world there would be no harassment, molestation, rape, or neglect. Today let’s join hands to build a better world—we can leave perfect to God.
#5. Finally, it’s important to celebrate great dads. They’re the rule, not the exception. I’m blessed that my children have an amazing father, and our grandbabies have an indulgent and attentive grandfather. Our son is now a grandfather and is following after his dad and grandfathers. This Father’s Day let’s show some appreciation to the men we admire and respect. They make the difference, and they matter.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.