ALFORD: <span>What can we learn from a mule? Quite a bit if we’ll just listen</span>  


Perhaps you remember the story about the three boys who were standing around the schoolyard bragging about their fathers.

“My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, calls it a poem, and they give him $500 for it,” the first boy said.

“That’s nothing,” said the second boy. “My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, calls it a song, and they give him $5,000.”

I’ve got you both beat,” said the third. “My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, calls it a sermon, and it takes eight men to collect all the money.”

I love to see and hear kids singing the praises of their parents. It’s biblical, you know.

“Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

The late great Erma Bombeck, who was a humorist and newspaper columnist, once wrote a heart-wrenching column about the day her dad didn’t get up and go to work. Instead, he went to the hospital and died the next day. Bombeck was but a little girl at the time, and she didn’t fully appreciate her father until he was gone.

“He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement by himself.

“He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures, but he was never in them.

“Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, ‘I'm going off to work now,’ and threw him under the bed.

“The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him, I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn't know his leaving would hurt so much.”

In our culture, fathers truly don’t always get the respect they deserve. Their role is an important one, so important, in fact, that it shouldn’t just be little boys in a schoolyard bragging on them.

We all should.

Reach Roger Alford at 502-514-6857 or at

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