It was a different world then… There’s a good chance someone would have called Child Protective Services if my dad would have done something like that today. Sure it was dangerous, but life is a dangerous place and being prepared for a less than perfect world is much better than living in fear of it. At least that’s the way my dad looked at it.
It wasn’t punishment, it was a treat to get to go to work with my dad. We knew he’d only take one of us with him to work if we were physically capable of being with him, even if it meant doing something what people in the world now would consider dangerous.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, I remember being terrified. I also remember having the confidence to do it because I trusted my dad’s judgment regarding me.
My dad propped the extension ladder on the side of the building and pushed the top part of the ladder up the side of the old block building by pulling down on the rope tied to the top part of the ladder, and pushed the top part of the ladder up the side of the old block building. “Clink-clink-clink-clink-clink-clink-clink-clink”! I listened as the ladder raised higher and higher, locking each step into place behind it.
My dad settled it firmly and squarely in place, I can’t remember if it was dirt or pavement, but I remember him stomping his big ole’ work boot on the first rung of the ladder with authority. “Danny you first”! He said to his partner.
Up the ladder, Danny scuttled like a cat. I stood glaring up into the bright desert sky with my arm bent, the palm of my hand and soft skin of my forearm blocking the sun as Danny flung his leg over the side of the building and secured the top of the ladder with both hands, “OK”! – “I got it”! he yelled down to my dad.
“OK Amigo”! (my dad’s affectionate nickname for me at the time), “Your turn”! As I stepped slowly toward the ladder he gave me last instructions, “Don’t take a step up the ladder until you have both hands on the sides”! – “OK”? … “OK,” I said softly.
I knew this was a rite of passage, even if it was only a small one at the age of 7 or 8. My dad had his left hand on the side of the ladder as I stepped toward it. I looked in his eyes as I started to step toward the first rung. Although I didn’t say another word, he knew me and my thoughts. “I gotcha’ son”… He said in earnest. I knew he meant it with his life.
Up I climbed… After a couple of rungs, I slowly got the feel and up the ladder I went, trying to imitate Danny. My dad and the friend he worked with laughed and joked about my bravery and abilities the rest of the day. As a kid, I didn’t know at the time that while proud, they knew overcoming fear was something to be encouraged.
That generation knew hard times.They lived through hard times with smiles on their faces, the didn’t hide and seek refuge from the world. The majority of the people from that generation, and I write as an eyewitness, never ducked or fainted in fear. My dad looked it in the eyes and stepped toward it. Fear flees… I saw it many times.
The fear of this world runs and cowers when it sees the spirit of God, as it peers into the eyes where God residing in their soul.
I got some good things from my parents as a kid. While we may not have gotten as much in material ways as others, what they gave us we would come to realize is more precious than all the gold the world has to offer.
Knowing God and witnessing in person the blessings of God, bestowed upon His children of faith, is one gift I could never repay.
I also cherish the seemingly smaller ones…
Like my dad saying, “I gotcha’ son…”
The beginning of faith.