This post is the nineteenth in a series, “Lessons from my Father, Lewis Marler,” who lived from 1921-1998.
My father was a “country boy” who grew up in Tuscaloosa and Hale counties in rural, west Alabama as the youngest of seven children. His father was a sharecropper during the week and a pastor on the weekends. His mother cared for the home and children, tended the garden, made their clothes, and canned food for the winter. She could kill a chicken by hand and prepare it for dinner when needed. Everyone had chores.
As a young boy, my dad learned how to plow straight rows in the field behind a mule and his “weight lifting program” was pitching the 60-100 lb. hay bales from the back of the wagon into the barn. He milked the family cows by hand with his brothers. He walked a couple of miles daily to catch the school bus.
By the time my father was in high school at Tuscaloosa County High, he wanted to play basketball and football. The problem was the late school bus that left in the afternoon to take the players home didn’t travel as far as my father lived. When my dad’s high school coach saw his potential, he convinced my grandfather to let my father stay in a room at the gym with another boy in the same situation so he could play ball and not have to come home. A widow who lived near the school provided his dinner each evening.
When my dad graduated from high school, that same coach put my dad in his car and took him to Samford University (called Howard College at the time) in Birmingham, and walked into the athletic department offices. He must have been persuasive because by the time they left, they asked him if he wanted to play football and basketball there. He said yes and started in both sports all four years.
I believe the first twenty-one years of my father’s life taught him about humility. Anyone who knew my dad would say he was a humble man. He was always quick to share the credit with others and he lived with a spirit of gratefulness. He knew and remembered his roots. His feet were firmly planted on the soil in which he walked and he understood that everything he had was a gift from God.
As Lewis Marler’s son, I fall short in this area of humility. I have had so many more advantages than my father had growing up. I was a suburban boy who walked one block to elementary school, and my father drove me the three blocks to junior high school each day. He bought me a car for my sixteenth birthday. He came to almost every athletic event I ever played in. I never worried about being hungry, or having enough clothes, and I never doubted I was loved. I got almost everything I ever wanted.
And still, I want to be more like my father and keep my feet firmly planted on the ground and be grateful for every gift as though it was from God. Because it is.
My father taught me so.
How about you? What have you learned from others by who they are/were? Will you share your story in the comments section below?
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