James Albert Stockton, early youth
Today marks the two year anniversary of my father’s death. On this day, I woke up in Las Vegas, Nevada in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel with my sister whose birthday is January 1. Our paternal grandmother’s birthday is also January 1, so she is named Alice after her. Our maternal grandfather, Ernie, birthday is December 31, so she could have been Ernestine. However, she stayed put in the womb to avoid that fate.
I went to Las Vegas for the first time in September 2022 for my friend’s 40th birthday, and my sister wanted to be there as well for her birthday. We flew back home today. We didn’t celebrate my sister’s birthday as a family on January 1, 2021 out of an abundance of caution because of the pandemic. I also had a major surgery a few weeks before. Then our dad died from a heart attack the next day. Our dad, who had not even retired, died at 71 years of age. We were devasted.
Jan 1, 2022, my sister also didn’t celebrate her birthday, so for January 1, 2023, we decided she would. It doesn’t change the fact that the day after her birthday will forever be the day that our dad died, but it is creating a new normal.
People who knew my dad spoke about his commitment to excellence in all that he did. He never felt a task was too small to commit to doing his best. My dad worked from age 10 through his death at 71. He died debt free and lived debt free for a long time before his death. When we worked on our family history book together, he reminded me of an honor certificate he earned delivering papers for The Indianapolis News.
I honestly was surprised my dad still had a certificate from when he was 12 1/2 years old. He told me that no matter what you do, you should do it well and be proud of your accomplishments.
It is a new year. Many times, people are disappointed they didn’t accomplish more in the previous year or aren’t on the same level as someone else. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be as proud as my dad was as an adult of an accomplishment from his youth. No accoomplishment is too small not to be championed by you.
I can’t get my dad back, but I can’t at least share a bit of the wisdom he left with me.