Lessons I Learned From A Truly Great ManI enjoy sharing things I have learned.  My posts consist of online training, social media and some personal development content.  I’ve even thrown a few personal posts in here from time to time.  Today’s post will be one of those but with a little of the lessons I learned as well.

A Truly Great Man

This post is dedicated to my Dad, John F. DeCell.  His friends all called him Jack and to this day I still have no idea why.  He was born on November 18, 1922 in their family home in rural Mississippi.  That’s right, he would have been 89 years old tomorrow if he was still with us. Unfortunately he passed away on February 23, 2003.

To say I think of him often is an understatement.  As his birthday rolls around again this year without him here, all I have are my memories.  As those memories have been heavy on my mind lately, I thought what better time to share with you all more about my Dad and some of the lessons I’ve learned from him.

The Younger Years

I am the middle child and have an older sister and a younger brother.  During my younger years my Dad wasn’t around a lot.  When he wasn’t in the hospital recuperating from yet another surgery, he was on the road traveling.  He was a salesman and was given three states to cover.

I remember when he was home and if we wanted something we would all go ask him.  We always heard the same thing each time, “go ask your mother”.  Yep, that man was smart. He knew who ran this household and it sure wasn’t him.

Positive Attitude

My Dad never sat any of us down and shared life lessons with us.  I guess you could say that the majority of the lessons I learned from my father were from watching him deal with so much in his life.

I’ve mentioned this in other posts but my Dad was sick almost his entire life.  Shortly after he was born he contracted pneumonia and the doctor’s didn’t expect him to live.  Later in grade school he was stricken once again and be became so ill that they held him out of school for an entire year.

In his early 30’s he had a heart attack, his appendix burst and he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Metastasis Epimyolpitheld Carcinoma.  There were only five people in the world with this same type of cancer and ten years before my father passed away, he was the only survivor left.  About 12 years before be passed away he was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

He volunteered at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for many years and was one of the founders of the Anderson Network.  The Anderson Network is a unique cancer support group of current and former patients who have been through what most patients are going through and are there to offer advice and encouragement when it’s needed.  My father even took a course to learn how to speak Spanish so that he could communicate with those who didn’t speak any English.

He always had such a positive attitude about the cards he had been dealt and just left it all in God’s hands.  He went through some very difficult times and we almost lost him several times after his surgeries.  Through it all, he always remained positive.

My Dad and I had a lot in common so I love to give him credit for my positive attitude. When I would be having a bad day and I would call him up to complain he use to always tell me that it could be much worse.  I could be laying in a hospital bed dying of cancer so the problems I feel are worth my time are tiny beyond comparison.

The lesson learned is stop sweating the small stuff because in the big scheme of things, they just aren’t really important.  Where you are in the present moment is what really counts.

Sense of Humor

When we were kids and would visit my grandmother, my Dad would sit out on the front porch and tell stories of some of the jokes his Dad use to pull on some of the help.  His father passed away when I was just four years old so I don’t remember him at all.  My Dad never let us forget him though and boy was he a character.

The jokes he would play were all just innocent fun stuff.  It didn’t matter how many times I heard those stories I still laughed like it was the first time.  They were just hilarious.

My Dad was a big cut up too.  Apparently he walked in his fathers footsteps when it came to having a great sense of humor.  At his memorial service a lot of his close friends and even family members got up and told stories of all the jokes and pranks he use to pull.  He really just enjoyed life to the fullest.

My lesson is to lighten up, enjoy life and just be happy.  There is always room for laughter in your life.  

Have Faith

I knew my Dad always had faith and that things would work out the way they should.

I learned after his passing in a conversation I had with my brother just how strong my Dad’s faith really way.   Back in the late 90’s my brother was going through some of his own issues so my Dad told him a story.  He said he didn’t tell many people because the ones he did tell thought he was just nuts so he decided to just keep it to himself.

My Dad’s first cancer surgery was in 1958.  This rare form of cancer attacks the weakest part of your body so his first experience with this was in his face.  They didn’t know how to treat this type of cancer so each time it had to be surgically removed.  The doctor’s told him that if they did remove all of the cancer he would more than likely be left with no use of the right side of his face.  Now, my Dad was a salesman with a young wife and three small children.  If this ended up happening, he had no clue how he would ever support his family since this was his livelihood.

While he was in the hospital, Reverend Milton Jordan (a family friend) visited him and asked if he would like to pray.  My Dad was literally scared to death of what could happen to him on that table so he was more than willing to pray with Reverend Jordan.  He proceeded to ask God to save my Dad so that he would have a good life and be able to support his family.  My Dad said at that very moment a real bright light appeared and startled him so that he jumped straight up in the air.   As soon as that happened he had immediate peace and knew that everything was going to be just fine.

Sure enough, when he was wheeled out of surgery even the doctors were amazed that there was no permanent damage.  He knew there wouldn’t be and from that moment on knew that God was watching over him.

The lesson here, you must have 100% undeniable faith that everything will work out the way it should.  What you think about you bring about.


What I admired about my Dad later in life is that when I wanted some advice I could go to him, sit down, tell him what was on my mind and he never told me what to do.  He would weigh the options, give me about three different solutions to my problem but he would always let me decide what the best solution for me was.

I really respected that later in life because I felt that my Dad trusted me enough to make the decision that was best for me.  That I am 100% responsible for how I chose to live my life and that if I did make a wrong decision, it’s no ones fault but my own.  The final decision is up to me.

I learned to take full responsibility for my own actions.

Happy Birthday Dad

Although I wish my Dad were still with us,  I know he’s in a much better place.  We were blessed to have had him for 80 years and the problems he had to go through in his life, the doctor’s were amazed he lived that long.  I believe it was his will, determination and faith that pulled him through.

I was with my Dad the last week before he lost consciousness and we had our glass of wine together like we always did when I visited him.  He told me how proud he was of me, how he wished he had helped me more with my school studies since he knew how much I struggled but that I had grown up to be an outstanding young lady.  He thanked me for always being there for he and Mom.  There were never any words unspoken between my Dad and me.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

I hope that this post will benefit anyone who reads this that might have some riff with someone in their life.  Maybe you’re mad at someone over something that happened some time ago and you haven’t spoken in awhile or maybe it’s some family argument that has never been resolved.

There are too many people who have lost loved ones in their lives and never had a chance to tell them just how much they meant to them.  They let all that small stuff get in the way of what’s truly important.  Family!!!!

Make peace, tell them you love them and move past the small stuff.  Trust me, in the scheme of things you’ll look back when it’s too late and you’ll think this very same thing.

I apologize for the length of this post but I do hope it was helpful for some.  Are there any words that have gone unspoken with someone in your life?  As the year approaches the end, isn’t it time to put that all behind us and move forward?  I know it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will always be easy but isn’t it worth it?

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post!  Now go tell that special someone just how much they mean to you.