Lessons From My Father

Hightower Family Late 1960s

Today is my father’s birthday. If Dad were still living, he would be 93 years old today. He passed away when I was eighteen, right at the point where I was viewing him more as a mentor than as a disciplinarian. I think of him often. I especially think of the lessons he taught my brother and me during his brief time on this planet.


Dad had a clear, no-nonsense way of dealing with obstacles. He would tell my brother and me that any obstacle can be dealt with. We just need to go over it, under it, around it, or through it. Simple and direct.

Find Out

Dad did not accept “I don’t know” as an answer from his sons. His response to “I don’t know” was always “then find out.” This was before Google + the Internet, so finding out meant going to the encyclopedia or making a trip to the library. We had to find out.

Back Up, Turn Around, and Go Forwards

Dad was extremely practical. He never owned a brand-new car in his life, he always bought used cars. When my brother and I asked him why (repeatedly from childhood) he would say “What can a new car do for me that a used car can’t? All cars are the same. Any car you get, no matter how expensive will only do three things: Back up, turn around, and go forwards.”

Always practical, to the end.

Mom and Dad Together

Mom is excruciatingly humble! And yet she is a teacher of many lessons, even to this day. One day when I was in my mid-thirties and feeling full of myself, I told Mom that she had done a great job raising me.

“I’m not done yet”, she quipped back. Always teaching, my mother is!

Mom proof-reads most of the articles on my blog. She is extremely detail-oriented, and she catches every mistake in grammar or punctuation, no matter how small. I owe my writing skills to Mom.

Mom, I love you, I appreciate you, and I am grateful that you are still raising me!


This post started off as a tribute to my Dad. As I conclude, I think about all of the other adults that my parents interacted with during my childhood. This crew of parents watched out for each other’s children, took us on outings as a group (to give one or two sets of parents a break) and they lived the motto “It takes a village to raise one child.” I am grateful for my Mom and Dad, as well as my Godparents, teachers, Scout leaders, and all of the others who shaped me.

I love you, Dad. And Happy Birthday!