Get a print subscription to Reader's Digest and instantly enjoy free digital access on any device. In 100 words or less, readers share their poignant tales of the bond between father and child. The little Cessna had just cleared the pattern in its climb to 1,500 feet when my father said, “OK, we can land now.” With my newly minted private pilot’s license in hand, I had wanted him to be my first non-instructor passenger. We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. Published on July 17, 2015Roma Downey dished to ET about her new series Answered Prayers, premiering July 26 on TLC. I’d planned to circle the Michigan State University campus and come back to the university?owned airport. He didn’t believe in excessive planning, and so each summer we embarked on a spontaneous family road trip that didn’t always go smoothly. There were two things I couldn’t box up: his work shirts and his two pairs of Red Wing boots. Even though his mouth was crusted with fever sores, he grinned a big grin from his unshaven face.
The sidewalk in front of his store collected dust and trash, which needed to be swept daily. He spotted a small turtle crossing the road, stopped to pick it up, and put in the glove compartment.

Working for a funeral home in the lower peninsula of Michigan, he had to deliver bodies to funeral homes in the upper peninsula. I reminded him of this, and I’ll never forget what Dad said, more than 40 years ago: “I’m not fond of small planes.
There were lots of late-night panics to find hotels, stops to ask for directions, and elevated tempers. He couldn’t remember birthdays or anniversaries, but he remembered the date on which he’d bought his first pair. I heard the creak of the side door, and he stood soaking wet, etched with scratches, holding an abundance of lilacs. She was a little surprised that someone would be calling her, knowing she was at dad’s funeral mass. At age six, I used to hide behind bags of potatoes when my dad asked me to sweep, but while sweeping one day, I began to find dollar bills under the dust and trash. When he arrived to class early one day, the professor informed him that he had the highest score in the district’s math exams. When we pulled in back, the manager saw me and said, “I heard it’s your birthday, so go pick out anything in our toy aisle free.” I excitedly grabbed some paper dolls, but the big surprise was still ahead.
Of course, when he got back to the truck at our subsequent stop to pick up milk cans, I was crying over a fresh bite on my finger. Dad told me that since he wasn’t a rich person’s child, no one cared: He was a jibaro who showed up to school with dusty shoes.

Since the private school I attended didn’t provide transportation, my parents enrolled me in public school.
As we blasted the radio and my dad bought us all ice cream, the hitchhiker told me he’d give his life to have what I had. Dad, the store manager, and the employees stood with a huge lit cake, singing me “Happy Birthday.” I’d turned seven, and this was my first-ever birthday party. My dad had been putting money on the sidewalk—and soon, I was happy to sweep even when no money was found. That was when I decided to keep achieving as much as I could in writing, even after graduation.
I can still see the looks on people’s faces as they passed our car and glanced in the windows. If you like the meat enough, you don’t need the ketchup—and if you like the company enough, you don’t need the conversation.” My dad never earned a college degree, but he was the smartest person I ever knew.
Ten years have passed and I still use that dictionary, along with the lesson I received early in life from my old man: to be self-sufficient.
He picked me up after I served my third Saturday detention, and he didn’t go to work the next week.

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