I often wonder when I get obsessive about preparation.
When did I start agonizing over the work months and months before the due date? When did perfection and detail become as important as the delivery?
As I think back, I can squarely place the cause for my obsession on the broad shoulders of my father. My first recollection is that of me standing directly in front of my dad leaning on his knees. That particular night I was struggling to recall the times tables but there were many other nights. After dinner, I would often be expected to recite the prepositions from front to back, deliver (with feeling) my rendition of “Old Ironsides” or name the capitals of every state. I’m still not sure I even knew what Old Ironsides even was and I certainly don’t remember the capitals.
The years flew by; I often think of how difficult it must have been for him to come home after a long day, sit down to dinner, then immediately join me at the dining room table to check my homework. My dad worked for the gas company and spent his day with a jackhammer in the very cold Pennsylvania winters. How he must’ve wanted to comfortable over-stuffed chain and watch his favorite TV show. My dad was a big barrel-chested German man who wasn’t blessed with a huge dose of patience and now I understand why.
He would crinkle up my paper at the sight of an eraser mark and heaven help me if I overlooked a mistake. He would send me scurrying upstairs to review the next chapter. “You will want to be prepared in case your teacher asks a question about the next chapter”, he would say softly.
My dad was the one who signed my report card,who wen to school when a young teacher became frustrated and smacked me along side the head (which I richly deserved). My dad is the one who came home and found me sitting on the school steps when I got my first “C” for a poorly sewn apron. I was afraid and embarrassed to go home. We never said a word; we didn’t need to.
So, when I scrunch up a draft for the umpteenth time, I think of my dad. When it seems to take me forever to get the words just right, I think of my dad. But when I deliver that powerful presentation that is right on target, I thank my dad!