Living and Giving

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\”Pamela do you know what excellence is?\”

Dad, when I was nine years old you sat me on my bed to have one of the first of your most famous \”excellence talks.\” Do you remember that? I was in fourth grad and you had just received my progress report. I had a \”C\” in spelling; and yet I was proud because I had finished the whole spelling book in October for the entire year (although most of it was wrong!)

We sat down on the bed. \”Pamela, do you know what excellence is?\” I don\’t remember my response, but your answer was beautifully clear. \”Excellence is doing your best. It is expecting and working towards the highest point you can achieve. And if your best was a \”C\” then I wouldn\’t say a thing. But I know this isn\’t true. If you try your hardest, then you will know what excellence is. Do you think you can try that?\”

I nodded then – and now. I am ever grateful for those excellence talks. They never stopped with that chat on my bed – I\’ve carried them with me throughout my life. I often stop myself thinking, \”Is this my best? Would Dad say this was excellence?\”

Know that your \”excellence talks\” will remain a tradition in my family in the years to come. I believe in them not just because of your wise words but because you lived it- in your work, in the way you took care for our family, and the way you treat others. So on this birthday, I\’d like to give you my own \”excellence talk.\”

Dad, your excellence talks to me daily. Thank you for always being motivated, showing how rewarding doing your best is. You are always trying to better yourself, striving for higher attainments, whether in keeping healthy, cultivating new friendships, or being open to new ideas. Your stand for achieving the best lies beyond having a positive attitude. It\’s a positive expectation. And foremost in my thought when I think of you, I think of your excellence in agelessness. Regardless of years, you reflect simple strength, a deeper kindness, and constant progression. Happy 55th birthday Dad. It\’s a glorious one: full of excellence and purpose just as in all other years past!

March 12, 1993