I can still remember the day he brought home his month's salary in a stack of cash. I thought we were rich! Then, slowly but carefully, my father used envelopes to show me how he paid the bills. Soon enough, there was just $20 left to the stack, and my father explained that this was how he took care of our family's affection for take-out or a trip to the drive-in now and then. It became clear to me that my parents made many sacrifices to make the lives of my sister, Michelle, and I as secure and comfortable as possible—going so far as to finance both of our Ivy League educations solely on credit cards.
Some of my father's most important lessons were simply taught by example. The less tangible lessons of hard work, discipline and character were evident in his daily life. Getting up and out for work every day with no complaints and in spite of his ongoing battle with multiple sclerosis. The grace with which he acted as family patriarch dealing with problems and doling out advice without ever being patronizing or appearing put upon. The chivalry he showed my mother. He showed me that a real man takes care of his family.