ShareThis Page
North Hills

Ed Pfeifer: Lessons from dad last a lifetime

| Friday, June 8, 2018, 8:57 p.m.

June is here and that's exciting. We have the first day of summer, Flag Day and, of course, June 17 — Father's Day. Dads do a ton for us in our lives, that is certain. But what normally stands out are the life lessons our papas have bestowed upon us.

Lessons from dads come in many forms. There are the “let me show you how it's done” type, the “let me lecture you” type, and the quick verbal tidbits for which most dads are famous. Forget long stories and sage advice, these bullet points are spat from dad's mouth like an empty sunflower hull.

Chances are you have heard some of these doozies: “Don't touch that, you goof,” “that's stupid, don't do that” or “let the tool do the work — LET THE TOOL DO THE WORK!”

That was exactly the type of counsel my dad served up with such regularity that I, over time, developed a resistance to. He would speak clearly and I would ignore or “interpret” as I like to say. That's exactly why, at the age of 11, I found myself applying direct pressure to stop the bleeding from my left index finger for the biggest part of a two-hour car ride.

We were leaving home for vacation and I was in the back seat toying with my favorite pocketknife and 3 feet of baling twine. My dad repeatedly, and quite clearly, told me to put the knife away. I didn't do that; I promptly cut my finger, commenced bleeding and until this moment never said a word. Eventually the wound healed, but the scar, like my dad's lesson, has been with me ever since.

For those of you who may be wondering, let me spell this out for you. The lesson my dad taught me that day, without saying these exact words, was simple: Never let your pocketknife go dull. Instead of a sharp blade, my knife was an embarrassing shaft of gray steel softened by the whittling of a thousand sticks. So I had to saw, instead of slice, through that length of twine. The knife slipped and blood spilled.

Since that day I've kept my knives as sharp as possible. It's a good thing, too, because pocketknives are perhaps the most used and abused tools in my ample collection.

Proper knife sharpening is a skill for which there are manuals, books and plenty of online videos. But for my money there is only one way to learn; get a stone and hone. Failure is likely on the trial run so don't start your knife-sharpening career with a family heirloom. Pick up a cheap knife, use it until it's sufficiently blunted and then give honing a try.

Before long you will be shaving the hair from the back of your arm and smiling at your newly perfected craft. I for one can't help but grin when I finish a blade.

My smile, though, is only partly one of pride. The rest is a happy recognition of my dad's way of teaching a life lesson and my unique way of receiving it. Thanks, Dad.

Ed Pfeifer is a Tribune-Review freelance columnist and owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc. If you have hardware-related questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me