Monday, October 15, 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet – W is for …

W is for words of wisdom.

As I sat at my desk, thinking about what topic I might choose for this latest alphabet challenge, a thought came to me. I'll write about my Dad’s sayings – his words of wisdom. (For those who want to participate in this creative and fun challenge, visit Family History Through the Alphabet.) 

Dad used to give me and my siblings a lot of advice when we were young, as I'm sure most fathers do with their children. It’s been 16 years since he passed away and I’ve forgotten many of his sayings, so this is my opportunity to record for posterity the ones I do remember before more memory loss sets in. 

I asked my brother and sister if they remembered some of Dad’s sayings. Marianne recalled bits of advice (similar to the ones I remembered). Raymond, however, recalled corrections, like "You don’t put gasoline in a diesel truck, you put diesel.” Advice or corrections, we all agreed on one thing: when Dad spoke in this manner, we knew it came from a place of love and that our father wanted the best for us, his children. 

Maurice Belair and his daughter Marianne on his 40th birthday, 1967.

Here are a few of my Dad's sayings: 

“Keep a path clear in your bedroom in case of an emergency.”
                Dad wanted us children to be able to get out of bed and make it safely to the door of our room without tripping over toys and other items in case of fire at night. 

“Buy yellow jackets so that you can be seen at night.”
                I couldn’t see myself ever buying a yellow-coloured jacket, at least not when I was a teenager, but I knew Dad thought wearing dark-coloured clothing like navy, brown or black while walking outdoors at night wasn’t a good idea. Years later, when my son was a little boy, I remembered my father’s advice and bought him an all-weather yellow jacket. I figured it was the ideal colour for all those rainy days we have here in the fall and winter months.

“Always buy a little better than what you can afford.”
                Dad felt that spending a little more money than you planned when buying something, say a camera or a coffee maker, was worth it, because you’d get extra features that would come in handy one day.

“Don’t go back for things you’ve forgotten once you’re on the road.”
                Dad didn’t believe in turning the car around and going back home for forgotten items once we started on a journey – whether it was a half hour drive or a trip across the country. I think he must have felt it was bad luck, and only made exceptions for important things like a wallet.

“Why get somebody to fix it when I can do it myself?”
                Dad couldn’t see paying good money to have someone else fix or repair things around the house when he could have a go at it and see how it would turn out. Not only did he like to save money, but I think he liked a challenge and got a kick out of being able to conquer any fix-it task. He almost always managed on his own, believing all he needed was common sense and determination.

“It’s better to have a warm jacket and never mind how it looks.”
                Dad obviously thought warmth trumped fashion, and was concerned for our comfort during those long, cold winters we had in Timmins, Ontario. My sister found this out one year when Dad was delegated to take her shopping for a winter coat. Dad dutifully went shopping, but took Marianne to a nearby men’s clothing store, to her great embarrassment. I guess he wanted her to buy something warm and practical. I don’t recall if my sister came home with a coat from that store or if she persuaded Dad to let her shop instead at a women’s store.

“If you do something, do it the best you can.”
                There were no half measures with Dad. It didn’t matter if you did something ordinary like housework or  repair a leaky faucet, or something special like sing in a choir or buy a car, if you’re gonna do it, then do it right. And by ‘right’ he didn’t mean perfect. He meant give it an honest effort, do the best you can, and take pride in yourself and in your work.

I so wish my Dad could know how much his words of wisdom have meant to me all these years and how I've put them to use as an adult.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. I love your W topic ... it is something that I believe we can all relate to. And I do love your quotes, with many sounding very familiar ;-)

  2. Thank you for your comment, Alona! I wasn't sure at first if I should share my Dad's sayings, but now I'm glad I did. I guess fathers are just about the same around the world, aren't they?

  3. And he had so many more!!
    BTW, love the pic!

  4. What a lovely tribute to your father.

  5. This is a lovely post. I think we can all relate to the sayings and words of wisdome that came from of our parents, and then we pass on to our children.

    The last one reminds me of the saying Mum often repeated "Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest, until your Good is Better and your Better, Best"

    1. Thank you for commenting, Sharon! I like your mother's saying; it sounds so familiar, too.

  6. I've just discovered your blog Yvonne and dropped by to congratulate you. This is a terrific post! I too am fascinating by my parent's sayings, especially their origins, and wrote about some of them in my W post too :-)... Cheers, Catherine

  7. Thank you so much, Catherine! Very kind of you to comment. I'll go take a look at your W post, now :)