Memories of my Father - George Willard Gibson, 11/18/1918 - 9/3/2012

Entry 1: Responsibility

My first legitimate memory of something significant involving Dad was around 4 years of age. I 'remember' our trip to New York and Washington, DC in the sense that I have seen all Dad's slides a million times and heard everyone tell the stories so often that it feels like I remember it, but I was two and a half. So I don't really remember a thing. This memory, on the other hand, is real.

It was evening in our living room in the house on Maplewood Drive which would have still been pretty new then. Mom was sitting on the couch knitting and watching TV. Dad was sitting in a chair across the room reading which would have been the newspaper, a Popular Mechanics, or his Bible. I was lying on the living room floor with my box of crayons and one of those kid's activity books doing a dot-to-dot drawing. My counting skills were probably still a bit sketchy and I made a mistake. I skipped from 4 to 6 or something like that and ruined the drawing. Being crayon, there was no erasing what I'd done. In tears, I took it to Dad because, as we all know, Dad can fix anything.

I discovered that Dad cannot erase crayon, either.

He pulled me up into his lap and told me a story. One night out at the refinery, he was sent to turn a certain valve and he turned the wrong one. This mistake caused problems and those problems had to be dealt with. He couldn't just un-turn the valve and make it disappear. He explained that sometimes you make a mistake and you just have to take responsibility and deal with the consequences.

I'm pretty sure I wasn't very pleased with this answer at 4. But it has been 50 years now and I still remember it, so score one for Dad.

After eleven years in the FAA's Air Traffic Division and now 13 years at Dell, I have made a number of mistakes for which I have taken full responsibility. My biggest mistakes are the ones that didn't occur at work. And they are the ones I will likely be paying for much longer. Dad, as he often was, proved to be right on the money. The secondary lesson we might want to take from all this: do as much of your work as possible in pencil.