My father, the late John Wallace Brown, was a hard-working man. It was not uncommon for him to work two or three jobs just to pay the bills, keep food on the table, and a roof over his little family’s head. Even in his later years he still went to work in a local hometown restaurant, and after he finished working at his regular job, he would go to work in his own lawn care business which he had for several years.
In addition to the lesson on the value of hard work, my father taught his four children another valuable life lesson – “Just stay focused!” He used to say this all the time, and I must admit that my brother, sisters, and I probably did not give his counsel the consideration that it deserved. Hindsight is 20/20, and now almost 8 years since his passing, looking back, I think I am finally beginning to understand what he was trying to tell us.
For example, at the time of my beloved mother’s passing in June 1997 at the young age of 59 years, my father could sense that his children were hurting over the loss of their mother, as he was also hurting. To help comfort his children he would often say, “Just stay focused!” I believe what he was saying to us was that even though our mother was no longer with us physically, she would always be near in our hearts. I believe that he wanted us to always remember the good times that we had together and never forget the things that she taught us. In his own way, he was saying to us that weeping may endure for a night, but joy does come in the morning. The love that we had for our mother would never fade, and the sweet memories of her would always be with us if we but stay the course and “Just stay focused!” which is exactly what our mother would want us to do.
“Just stay focused!” – only three little words – but those three small words of counsel have often come to mind even in recent days as I strive to stay on course in my life. There have been some moments since my mother’s and my father’s passing that I have felt like throwing up my hands and giving up, but in the back of my mind I can still hear my father say, “Just stay focused!”
My father was a living example of often being knocked down in life, but somehow he always found the strength and the courage to get back up and keep going. Through that example I have learned that life can seem unfair and unkind at times, and there will be times when it seems that it just isn’t worth the effort to press forward, but the choice is mine as to whether I will give up and give in, or “just stay focused!“ and run the race to the end with faith and endurance.
Thank you Dad for teaching me this valuable life lesson through your counsel and example which has helped to mold and shape me into the man who I am today. I only pray that I will always keep your words of counsel before me, and that I will always be the man who you hoped and prayed that I would become. I pray that I will never let you down. I love you and miss you very much.