Each of us have a recording playing in our minds. Our belief systems play over and over inside our heads as a personal verification of what we believe to be true. A few of us have made a conscious decision of what we believe, but most have developed their beliefs subconsciously based upon their life experiences. In one case, a person decides what is true for them and in the other, they allow their life to dictate what they believe.
As I have shared with you before, I was raised by a father who told me from my earliest memory that I had the power to make my dreams come true. He told me I was smart, handsome and talented and that I could achieve anything my imagination could create. My mother was a wonderful person but suffered from a severe and undiagnosed form of PTSD. Her beliefs were that tragedy, pain and failure were always right around the corner. As is true with many growing up in the 1960s my mom stayed home, and my dad worked a job as a bakery delivery man. As such, my sisters and I spent far more time in the home with my mother. Mom was loving and nurturing, but her life experiences told her that to protect her children she must temper their expectations by emphasizing the negatives of life. It was her attempt to protect us.
Fortunately, we gravitated to the positive reinforcement and encouraging messages from Dad. Our father had a booming laugh that was contagious. If he laughed everyone near laughed with him. When he spoke, everyone listened. He had a magnetic personality that attracted others. To us, he was larger than life. We wanted to be just like him, and I think in many ways, we are.
My dad dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help on his small family farm in Sesser, Illinois. I imagine for the Moore family that life was hard. John Moore was a full-time coal miner but also a full-time farmer. He mined the coal to pay the bills and farmed so their family of seven children could eat. They were raised in a 700-square-foot three-room home on the corner of Matthew and Mulberry. The parents and the two youngest children slept in the only two beds while the other five children slept on cots, or on the floor.
Understanding the circumstances, it would be easy to wonder how Dad could have been raised to be such a positive force, but if you met my grandparents, you’d know why. John and Allie Moore radiated positivity and as such, they raised positive children even under the poorest of circumstances.
My mom painted one life picture for her children and my dad another. Mom’s was of failure and tragedy while Dad’s was of success and optimism. A friend who is a psychologist shares that I am unusual. I consciously made the decision to follow my father’s positive life example. He says that in most cases, children would be heavily influenced by the negative messages. It is easier to believe the negative about ourselves and life. My sisters and I defied the negative and to this day it is the voice of Dad we hear in our heads and we are grateful.
My father, Warren E. “Gene” Moore left us so suddenly that it is still hard to believe he isn’t here. I had lunch with him on Friday May 13, 1983, and six hours later we received the news he was gone. A sudden heart attack took the man we believed to be invincible. I don’t have many regrets in life, but I do regret the things I did not have a chance to say to him. Mostly, I regret not thanking him for the way he shaped us into positive and optimistic people.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my book about his life in baseball and war, “Playing with the Enemy,” was my attempt to thank him for his positive influence. In the book I tried to say the unsaid words in my heart and show my deepest respect to such a positive force.
This will be my 37th Father’s Day without my father, but I miss him as though he left us only yesterday.
Thank you, Dad. I wish I would have thanked you for your positive influence on my life but when you died, I was only 29 years old and didn’t fully realize the incredible gift I received. I regret most of all that I didn’t tell you, the last time I saw you, how much I loved you … but I believe you now understand.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.
GARY W. MOORE is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com