I would have to say that the singlemost important moment of the time when i REALLY learned what honor was when when my Dad had me sit next to him on the couch before he died. He died when I was 14. I was 10 then. He said to me, “Hardy, I’m going to give you something that’s special to me. And i need for you to keep it clean and safe. I need for you to watch over it for the rest of your life.”
Me, I’m shitting my pants thinking What in God’s Name am I gonna have to watch over when I’m 78 and leaning on one of those 3-legged bastards they sell in the geriatrics aisle of CVS? But it’s my Dad telling me this, so i’m listening. and i’m ready to hear what he has to say. He puts his arm around me. And he reaches into his pocket. And he pulls out a little cloth bag and jingles it in front of my nose. I’m thinking, Jesus Christ, he wants me to watch a bag of nickels for the rest of my life?! Then he empties the bag out into his palm. And I take a look. And I’m thinkin, You’ve got to be kidding me, those sonsabitches are pennies!!
That’s what i’m thinking right then. That those babies are plain old pennies.
They’re not. They’re wheat pennies. And they’re worth more than a nickel. One of those was a 1909 made in San Francisco. That’s worth $47 smackers a pop. Another in that bag is a 1914-D. Made in Denver. That’s $125 now and that’s no joke. Others are worth $15, $25, so on and so forth. There were about 8 of those diamonds in the pot, and I wouldn’t have known shit from shamrocks if my Dad didn’t explain that the value of a penny is sometimes a hell of a lot more than the value of a penny.
Then, four years later, my Dad died and left me with a bag of pennies in my pocket. But that’s the thing, isn’t it. He left ME with a bag of pennies in my pocket. Not Billy, my brother. Not Mary, my sister. He left them with their own bags of knick knacks, but he knew I was the guy to understand that a pennie’s worth more than what it seems. And the only reason i know that is because i sat there on that couch next to him, even though i didn’t give a damn about a ditch back then, is because he gave me a bag full of responsibility. “take care of these, Hardy.” And it was because I was honorable to my Dad that those babies are worth more now to me than they were even then.
Because I could have spent them on penny candy, and thrown everything my dad trusted me with into the pit of my gut with the rest of the taffy and bubble gum. But those coins are still sitting in that bag on the top shelf of my closet back in Bay City, next to my dress shoes.
Clean and taken care of.
Who needs to invest in the market when you can invest in the wisdom of a Dad like mine?