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Tips from My Dad, for My Kids

My dad, Joe Mackey, was a caring and affectionate father who enjoyed having his six children and 18 grandchildren around — and always found a way to share a lesson that would serve us well in the future.

We didn’t always know it at the time, however. Once when was I home from college an old boyfriend showed up unexpectedly. I did not want to see him. I figured I’d just sit this one out. So I stayed upstairs, hoping someone else would ward him off.

Nuh-uh. My father’s shadow darkened the doorway and I remember the look on his face.

My father’s shadow darkened my bedroom doorway and I remember the look on his face.

“Your friend is here,” he said.

“Tell him to go away,” I said.

“That’s something you need to do,” he said. Pause. “And I’m sure you’ll find a way.”

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He didn’t yell, judge or criticize, but I remember having the unmistakable impression this was my issue to tackle.

The doorbell kept ringing; the dog kept barking. Finally I went downstairs, opened the door, found a way to be gracious at age 18 — and ended up having a decent conversation with a guy who just wanted his old girlfriend to know he was doing OK.

The nerve-wracking incident was soon over and he was gone. I had survived. All these years later, it seems so silly, but Dad’s guidance and direction taught that teenage me a lot about taking care of your own business and holding your head high in the process.

My two sons and two stepsons have learned so much from him over the years. Though he’s been gone a year now and we miss him terribly, his gemlike lessons taught with kindness and love linger on: