My father loved goodness wherever he found it. He was a cattle rancher in Alberta, as were some of his brothers. I remember hearing him say on occasion the accolade, “Now that man was a true cowboy.” This caught my attention because sometimes I had heard the term “cowboy” used derogatorily for a person who acted without finesse or expertise.
But with a certain few associates, my father used it to refer to a man’s integrity. It seemed to include love of the land and the willingness to work hard and get your boots dirty; it encompassed a moral code in which your word was your bond, family was first, and God was over all. That’s a far cry from the rule of the west we all learned from Hollywood.
He didn’t know the language for the contemporary Curriculum of Self-esteem. It would have offended his integrity to make an innocuous statement like, “You’re perfect just the way you are.” He saw people’s faults, their shallowness and lies, their greed and perfidy. He saw it all, but he acted on whatever good he found. I watched him love people who were difficult to love and he did it with specific acts of kindness and generosity.
I remember how he hired a man and worked closely with him for decades, a man my father knew to be jealous of his success. This employee combed the company files for every possible reason to fault my father’s work and made a case against him that he took to the highest levels of the corporation, fully expecting it would expose my father as dishonorable and cost him his job. The CEOs responsible for the lengthy investigation found the accusations against my father to be without basis.
Did my father fire the employee for being a traitor like the rest of us thought he should? No. Though it cost him dearly, my father continued to work with the man year after year. At my father’s retirement party, I heard this employee say with tears running down his cheeks that he counted my father as his dearest friend.
What kind of man does that to someone who hated him? A man who loves goodness. My father disliked being around sanctimonious people and found overt didacticism beyond tedious. He was simply good and whatever goodness dwelled within others was attracted to his.
After a visit with him I felt like I was a better person, I could improve, I could achieve my goals. I felt refreshed, in a way made new from being in the presence of his simple, unadulterated goodness.