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Ways My Father Influenced Me

So Much of Who I am Came from Him

By Linda RivenbarkPublished 11 months ago 3 min read
Ways My Father Influenced Me
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

My Dad taught me that gentleness does not mean weakness, but is the ultimate strength.

He held me to high standards, as he did himself.

Dad modeled hard work and emphasized the benefits that it produces.

From working in a vegetable garden to fixing large machines at Lance Packing Company, he never shrank from physical labor and taught his children to do the same.

Photo of my Dad - Property of Author


Years before he became my father, he had to prove his strength by surviving and helping his family of 11 (Parents and 9 children) survive the Great Depression which began in 1929, the month he turned 9 years old.

Throughout his teen years, he was no stranger to hard work. Farming meant cultivating, planting, and maintaining rows of delicious vegetables. Harvest time found the whole family picking, digging, and preserving bushels of fresh produce to help them survive the coming winter.

By Ray Shrewsberry on Unsplash

Farm animals had to be cared for, cows milked, horses brushed and groomed, and pigs fed. All the animals, including chickens and turkeys, had to be fed and provided with shelter from the elements.

By Amanda Canas on Unsplash

The farm work was never mine to do, but the principle of working faithfully to accomplish the task at hand helped me weather the storm as a single mom when my job was anything that had to be done.

The economic woes of the Great Depression found no remedy until it was lifted by the atrocities of World War II when the production of military vehicles, planes, weapons, and ammunition began to fuel a more affluent economy around 1941.

After weathering the Great Depression, my Dad was drafted into the United States Army and after boot camp, he was sent to the South Pacific Theater of the War to serve three years.

By Eduard Delputte on Unsplash

Five years after World War II ended, I was born. My Mom and Dad had two boys before my birth, so we became a family of five. Almost three years later, my younger brother was born and the six of us lived in a two-room house until I was nine years old.

Dad continued teaching us the value of hard work when he spent long hours after his full-time job building a house for the six of us to move into. He hired some help from time to time, but much of the labor was done by his hands alone. Often he let us come over and "help" him by handing him tools and such small chores, but I think it was mostly to let us witness what it takes to build a house to make a home.

By Recha Oktaviani on Unsplash


Dad could not see someone in need and not try to find a way to help them. If a family in our church community had a death in the family or a serious illness, he would give them whatever money he could spare. Feeding a family of six and buying clothes for four growing children on one paycheck was challenging enough, and my mom often did without to make sure we had what we needed. At times, Dad's generosity caused friction between him and Mom. I did not understand the conflict at the time, but now I can see both points of view.

By Mandy von Stahl on Unsplash

My Dad did his best to not only "talk the talk", but to also "walk the walk". He taught us right from wrong as he saw it, and expected our behavior at home, at school, and in the community to be exemplary.

Both he and Mom told my brothers and me that if we got a spanking at school (at that time spankings could be administered), we would get another one when we got home.

When he had to discipline me (or my brothers), he always told us that he disapproved of what we had done wrong, but that there was nothing we could do that would cause him to stop loving us.

I learned empathy and unconditional love from both my parents, but Dad had his own unique way of expressing it. I have not forgotten.

He has been gone for over ten years now, but my memories of him are as fresh as the breath I breathe, and I will always love and miss him.

By Bianca Berndt on Unsplash

immediate family

About the Creator

Linda Rivenbark

I believe in the magic of words, love, and tenacity. There is a world out there that needs to be explored, researched, and written out to try to make some sense of it, and to make a better place for the children of tomorrow.

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Comments (10)

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  • Test7 months ago

    A beautiful and heartwarming tribute to your father. You have captured his strength, resilience, and love for his family in a way that is both personal and relatable.

  • Novel Allen7 months ago

    I firmly believe that kids would be better off if they had early reinforcement of the value of hard work and kindness, your father was a darling man. We can only hope for changes. This was a great story.

  • StoryholicFinds7 months ago

    love it! ❤️

  • L.C. Schäfer8 months ago

    Surely he would be very proud of you and touched by your words.

  • Babs Iverson9 months ago

    Beautifully and eloquently written!!! Fabulous tribute to your dad!!! Love this!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Dana Crandell11 months ago

    A lovely tribute, Linda. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Jay Kantor11 months ago

    Dear Linda - Thank you for your, as always, "Magic Words" - Lesson Learned - Jay Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Author Community -

  • Denise E Lindquist11 months ago

    Thank you for sharing about the man your father was. So sorry for your loss ❤️

  • Tiffany Gordon 11 months ago

    Beautiful work Linda!

  • Beautiful Writing 💖📝😉

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