Lately, I think a lot about my dad’s life lessons and what they meant. It’s ironic how, sometimes, you have to lose someone so important in your life to realize the impact they really had.
My mantra in life has always been: Red and Laughter. (Well, until I was old enough to drink. Now it’s Red, Laughter and Whisky). But I can’t take credit for the “Red and Laughter” bit. My dad taught me that when I was 8.
See I was quite an angry 8 year old and walked around snarling, growling, and kicking things for most of the day. I believe there were a couple of shop lifting incidents too (gasp!). I was the brat that put all brats to shame. I can’t remember why. Maybe my braids were too tight. But my dad wasn’t very happy about that and would say, “What happened here? You were my little angel from the ages of 0-7.5!” (those questions sound especially endearing if you imagine his Indian accent in your head).
So he decided it was time to re-progam me; so to speak. Now my dad loved to write religious rhyming poetry and would recite them to anyone who would ask, not ask or happen to be crossing the street outside our house. He was very creative and a clever rhymer.
He wrote me a poem addressed to God which I was told I had recite out loud every night. I wish I still had it and remembered every word. It started out with “Bless me with true light…” but ended with rhyming verses making promises of fun, honesty, smiling in the sun, being a good girl and making one person laugh everyday. There was also P.S. at the end of the poem from my dad. It said “ You are going to wear red more. Your mother says it looks nice on you and people like you more when you wear red- Love, Your Father. The All Believing One.”
That wasn’t all. An hour before bed, for the next month, would now be my quiet hour. I had to reflect for the first half hour in silence and then for the next half hour recite my poem out loud until I knew it, until it sunk in and until I wasn’t grumpy anymore. As you can imagine it was torture. Anyone who’s ever been 8 knows that the last hour before bed is the most magical time in a child’s life. It’s the hour where anything is possible, when you remember all the very important stories you have to play out before you go to sleep and, in my case, when I followed my brothers around hoping to learn something new. I was convinced they knew everything about anything.
At first, I’d kick my feet out, pout and not do it. But my dad would just wait and sit there with me at the foot of my bed. Then I’d finally give in and start “Bless me with true light….,” make my promises and go to bed. For a month. Every night. The longest month of my life.
Of course it worked. Well almost. From this point, I now kicked my feet out when I was bored (It’s been pointed out to me that I still do that as an adult when I’m bored). But I wasn’t as grumpy anymore. I bet I was happier because I got my magic hour before bed back.
The key is: I’ve stuck to my promise without realizing it. I’ve made one person laugh every day. I’ve worn red a lot. I never forgot.
To this day, I get stressed if I look back at my day and realize I didn’t make someone laugh today. So during that hour before bed, when all the magic happens, I reach out to a friend or my family and make someone laugh, if I haven’t already. During the hour when anything is possible. It’s a great way to make and keep the friends you really like, attract the boys you really like and get jobs you really want.
I also wear red a lot and have been wearing red during some of the best moments of my life: My interviews where I got the job, my first crush, my first promotion, my first race, when I fell in love, when I bought my first car, when I had my first whisky. Just like dad said, people are also nicer to me when I wear red.
Dad’s life lessons. So simple. So effective. Who knew?