These are things my dad used to say:
1) “That old dog won’t hunt.” This meant that excuse won’t work; that plan isn’t any good; that behavior isn’t what it should be, etc.
2) “Hasta La Stinko” This was accompanied by a smile and a wave to a bunch of teenagers who seemed to constantly occupy our kitchen.
3) “If everybody would just wash the dishes they use and put them away, we would never have a sink filled with dirty dishes.” I still don’t have a dishwasher and I find myself repeating this phrase as often as my dad must have said it. It is the truth, after all.
4) “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” My father was one of the nicest people I have ever met. He didn’t spend time saying mean things about people. He didn’t believe in that. Instead, he focused on the positive. That may be why so many people regarded him as their friend. He was a genuinely kind-hearted human being.
5) “Make friends, one at a time.” This meant walk into a room and just turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself, then move on through the room getting to know people, one person at a time.
6) “I believe I’ll go up for my nap.” This was said everyday after lunch for my entire childhood. Daddy would sleep for an hour and then proceed with his day.
7) “Whenever you meet someone, look them straight in the eye and extend your hand so you can give them a firm handshake. Just say, ‘Hello. I’m Len Leatherwood. Now what’s your name?’” This has served me well over the years, for sure.
8) “A man needs a woman who is strong enough to pull a plow in hard times.” My dad was raised on a farm. This was often in response to my question, “Am I too fat?”
9) “Your body is in perfect proportion.” This was the other response to my question, “Am I too fat.”
10) “Have I told you today that I love you?” My dad said this to me every day of my life until he died.
11) “Could you be any cuter?” My dad was happy to have a little girl back in his life since my sister, who was 11 years older than I am, was his only other daughter.
12) “Stop chewing that gum, you look like a cow chewing its cud.” This somehow never deterred me from gum chewing.
13) “Gun Smoke (or Bonanza or Paladin or The Rifleman) is on!” My dad loved all the westerns on TV and we spent a lot of time watching these shows together.
14) “You’re a little jewel.” Happy words for a daughter to hear.
15) “You’re a gem-dandy.” Again, nothing nicer than these words of praise.
16) “Is your mother over at that church again?” My dad was a churchgoer, but not quite as devoted as my mother.
17) “I’ve cooked up a mess of mountain oysters for the boys at the barn. They’re coming over to eat them this evening.” Mountain oysters, for those of you who don’t know, are bull calves’ testicles.
18) “Come go with me to feed the cows.” My dad went every afternoon out to the pasture north of town to feed our cows. I often went with him and, if I were lucky, he’d let me drive the old truck through the pasture once we had closed the gate and went bumping down to where we threw out the bales of hay. I loved those trips.
19) “Look at how pretty that alfalfa is out in that field!” My dad used to drive slowly down the Farm to Market roads and comment on the alfalfa, corn, cotton, or maize that was growing. I remember being impatient that we were going so slowly. Now I can appreciate how focused my dad was on being in the moment. A good lesson in life. Pay attention and marvel at what surrounds you.
20) “The people in your family are the most important people in your life.” My dad was close to every one of his 9 brothers and sisters and he expected us to be the same with our siblings. We all have been close, as well as close to our cousins. That intimacy has brought a lot of joy to my life, not to mention deep friendships.