Out of all the things my dad left me when he died, a piece of an old combine belt was the most valuable. It was the belt his father used to beat him with and it always hung over the door to the bathroom as a reminder of what things could have been.
My father grew up poor in the remote province of New Brunswick. He worked the coal mines from an early age and indeed his life a a child was filled with hard work and harsh discipline. The man he called his father was actually his step father but he wasn’t told of this fact until after the brutal man died. His daily routine of work and turmoil was only broken by visits from his uncle buck from Winnipeg. Buck was a large bear of a man who would come twice a year like clockwork to visit his sister and her kids. My dad said he was the kindest man he ever met and I guess it was his influence on my father that helped him break the cycle of abuse in his own home as he grew older.
We couldn’t have asked for a kinder more gentle man than my dad and we all trusted and loved him deeply. When he would talk of his childhood and the beatings he received his eye’s would slowly slide over to the belt hanging there and his whole demeanour would change. The power of those beatings must have been terrible and I would always go to bed with a heavy heart thinking of the childhood robbed from this gentle and loving man. He taught us that no matter what people said or did to us we would always be welcome home any time, and we knew that we could always count on a smile and a gentle word of advice to soothe us when we got there.
Time continued her dance, we all grew up and moved out but we still continued to seek advice and love from our father till one day we were informed that he had died. It hit us all hard and as we met on the old farm tears flowed freely for this man who had everything taken from him as a child but managed to find something beautiful for his own children to hang on to everyday.
The lawyers came in the days after and the last wishes were stated and passed on. The estate was meager but we all received one gift beyond value or words.
In his last days he had taken the belt down from the wall and cut it into four pieces. We all received a piece of the belt that had hurt our father so terribly. That night we sat around crying discussing what he could have been thinking when he did this. As the night wore on it began to dawn on us what he really wanted.
The belt symbolized everything he taught us not to be.
It was his trophy. He had lived through the abuse. Instead of abandoning his life like so many others had, he embraced it and in doing so he turned a legacy of hate and hut to a life of love and happiness.
I keep that belt on my wall. We all do. It hangs as a reminder of the obstacles we can all overcome with grace and when my daughter is crying because she lost her pokemon cards or skinned her knee, I look at it, hold her tight and think of a man she will never know. A man I was and am proud to call my dad.
About the Author
John Aubichon Lives in Northern Saskatchewan with his wife Chantalle and Daughter Charisa. His short stories have been published worldwide in many books and magazines such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, Catholic Digest, and A Cup Of Comfort. He is a copywriter for a major network Radio Station by day and in the evenings he lives out his childhood fantasy of playing drums in a rock and roll band. John can be contacted at email@example.com drop him a line, he’d love to hear from you!
Marketing Tip…from Neville Pokroy
What an incredible story. Truly a story of overcoming the odds and dealing with adversity. A story of incredible bravery and persistence in the face of extreme provocation. A story of turning things round when circumstances seem so bleak. Such strength of character is something to be admired and celebrated. But most important, it is something to learn from. Learning that no situation is insurmountable, and that with incredible strength of purpose, one can take the positive out of something so negative.
I bet that many of us running, operating and participating in businesses feel that we are slowly descending into the depths of despair as things worsen around us. We are looking for ways to protect ourselves from the troubles that may lie ahead. However, how many of us are looking for the opportunity in all of these troubles? How many of us are prepared to look for the lessons so that we can emerge stronger and wiser? How many of us are actually seeing the light when there is only darkness around us?
Marketers are actually optimists at heart. No, it’s not in our training, but probably something that is inbred. We always find ourselves looking for the solution to drive our organizations forward, and that is where I suggest each and every one of you should be. There are enough doom and gloom people out there. Misery needs no company.
So take up the challenge and see the light. You may not recognize exactly where it is pointing or exactly what is represents. However, follow it and find out for yourself. And if you need some help, take it when it is offered. It will help you thrive as you lead your organization out of these turbulent times.
Hello, I am actually the author of this story-i was searching my email and this page came up-I just thought it was very kool because I am also in Communications/Marketing and I thought what you wrote was dead on--Keep up the great work! John
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