I’m writing this brief letter to you because I know how important time has always been to you. I’m aware that you taught yourself to read and write, and that you will read this with a smile. I realize that being born in Mississippi in 1908, you encountered and endured a lot, yet you made it through. I don’t remember ever hearing you complain about your upbringing. We really didn’t talk openly about feelings, but I want you to know that I will never be able to thank you enough for all that you’ve done for me.
As a father, you taught me to be a productive person in society, to be a good friend, and to always take care of my responsibilities. The values and principles that you instilled in me are still with me. You’ve been gone for more than 25 years but I still feel that you are with me. I thank God for that.
Dad, you didn’t have any formal education, but you demonstrated the value of education. You inspired me to achieve a post-graduate degree without saying a word about it.
To this day, I give focus to doing what is right. I don’t always get it right, but I strive to better myself with each encounter. Growing up, I always heard you say, “Right is right,” and if someone chooses to do wrong, they have to deal with the consequences, no questions asked. I put God first, then family, making sure they are taken care of. Then I can “see about me” and my needs.
I’m also thankful for character, which is not a word that you used, but you demonstrated daily by your actions. It’s not only what a person says, it’s what they do that matters most. I love that, Dad. I learned from you not to talk about the person that I am; I live it. Others can view for themselves the kind of person I am.
Your focus on being timely haunts me to the point of getting an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach anytime I’m late for anything.
Dad, I know you would be proud of what you produced in me. I can envision you smiling. You would be proud of your grandchildren because of how you lived your life; they carry those principles as well. Regardless of what path in life they take, they will always know, “Right is right!”
Happy Father’s Day!
Love you Pops,
Barnett Harris, MS, senior manager of Mental Health Rehabilitation Services at Pittsburgh Mercy, is the son of William H. Harris Sr. and the father of four adult children who proudly carry forward the Harris “right is right” family tradition. Pittsburgh Mercy wishes the Harris family — and all fathers and families — a happy Father’s Day.