Do It Well or Not At All

On the desk in front of me just below the bottom of my dual monitors is a double frame in silver. On the right side is my father’s lifetime motto. I think it was his high school’s motto, but he picked it up and repeated it six decades after he graduated.

If a job is once begun,
Never leave it till it’s done.
Be the labor great or small,
Do it well or not at all.

On the left side is a family picture from around 1960 when my parents were young with dark hair, no gray, and slender, and my sister and I were little girls in matching dresses. I remember those dresses. They were polished cotton with a cream background and colorful flowers in red and orange and cap sleeves and a built-in petticoat. I remember the petticoat because it was scratchy against my skin. And the seams under the arms were scratchy, and it makes me shiver to this day to think about it. A white plastic headband held my hair back. My sister’s hair was short and curly. We sat at our yellow table, with Fiesta mix-or-match cups and saucers placed in front of us. The knotty pine wall of the room is shiny in the light of the camera. The picture is black and white, but I remember it in color.

It’s one of those good times to look back to, when we were a stable, secure family unit living under one roof, and my sister and I shared a room and had twin beds on opposite walls — together, with a tad of privacy.

Time has a way of changing things, of turning people into incapable masses of flesh and bone, of ripping people away. In March it will be five years that my father has been gone.

I wonder if anyone in the world — other than his children and grandchildren — remembers his motto and how he lived by it. His integrity, his dedication, his stick-to-it-iveness. He was honest, he was faithful, he was dependable, he was there.

We knew he always would be. Only now, he is not. What do you do with that?

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One Comment on “Do It Well or Not At All”

  1. Deborah Denson says:

    He is still here and I got to meet him today…. through you. Thank you for that.


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