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It's Not a Step for a Stepper: Parenting a Few Words at a Time

Danny is a writer, teacher, pastor, husband, father, granddad. He is very much the middle child, a blessed son of two wonderful parents.

An Arkansas native

My Dad was born Gerald Wayne Cabaniss, in a home in Bingen, Arkansas, on May 28, 1940. Arkansas impacted him, and he impacted me, in countless ways. I can begin to try to count them when I think about the things Dad said to me, over and over. He was a world class encourager. His encouragement came in various forms. I can easily tell you seventy one liners that I heard Dad say one hundred times, easily. I can reduce it to seven here. It reminds me, as a father and in all the other roles I play, to choose carefully what I say repeatedly. The words that become my proverbs are part of my legacy. Dad’s proverbs are certainly part of his. I can still hear them, in my heart, and Dad passed from this world on October 12, 2010.

Photographs and memories

My Dad, Wayne Cabaniss, my son, Zachary Cabaniss, and me.

My Dad, Wayne Cabaniss, my son, Zachary Cabaniss, and me.

Dad, with the children of my wife, Alyssa, and I - Melanie and Zachary Cabaniss.

Dad, with the children of my wife, Alyssa, and I - Melanie and Zachary Cabaniss.

Kalyn, Dad, Zachary, Jase, Mom, Melanie

Kalyn, Dad, Zachary, Jase, Mom, Melanie

Dad, Zachary, Jase

Dad, Zachary, Jase

Dad and Mom and the family, at Dad's retirement party

Dad and Mom and the family, at Dad's retirement party

Dad and Mom

Dad and Mom

Dad, Zachary, Jase, Melanie, and Kalyn, at our home in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Dad, Zachary, Jase, Melanie, and Kalyn, at our home in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

For the shape I'm in

When someone would ask Dad how he was doing, he had various responses he would give. Every so often, he would look the person in the eye, and say, “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in.” He wasn’t discounting a physical ailment he might be enduring, or a tough time he was going through. But he had a perspective about how he was doing in the midst of it. He focused on the good, not the bad. It was part of the winning attitude he had about life.

Part of the solution

Dad was a banker. Twice in his banking career, someone above him at the bank was convicted of embezzlement. It is the second time that I remember well. Dad began to be put under the microscope. If the top man at the bank was dirty, what about the second man? He had to take a lie detector test. He was passed over for the president’s job, a job he had turned down previously, for my sake. I don’t remember exactly what I asked him, but it must have been something like, “Why don’t you go to another bank, Dad?” I remember he looked me in the eye and said, “You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution.” It wasn’t the last time he would say that to me, not by a long shot. It was the most memorable. I find myself saying it in various contexts today. Sometimes, I am saying it to myself.

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Not a step for a stepper

I would talk to Dad about various challenges in my life, at various ages. I would be focusing on the challenge, on the obstacles to overcome. Dad would focus on what he believed about me, as an overcomer. He would say, “It’s not a step for a stepper.” This line has been echoing in my heart almost daily lately. Dad’s belief in me continues to impact my belief in myself. His proverb keeps pushing me up the steps.

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Set the hook!

Some of our best conversations were around a fishing hole. It is not the quiet words of wisdom I remember most. It was the three words he shouted at me, so many times. Who knows how old I was the first time I heard him say it? I would be fishing with a bobber. I would be watching that bobber intently, for a few minutes. Then, invariably, I would look away. Dad would still be watching my bobber. He would see it twitch and wiggle and then go under. And he would shout those three words, “Set the hook!” Those words said so much. You have a fish on, this is the moment you have been waiting for, it is time to act decisively, you can’t start reeling that fish in until you make sure he is on the hook. Set the hook! Those words still echo in my heart, and not just when I’m fishing.

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A flea and a wagon

I rarely doubted what my Dad said, but when I did, I even more rarely could keep it to myself. I would express doubt, and I would get “that look,” and I would hear these words. “Son, if I tell you a flea will pull a wagon, hitch it up!” That one still makes me chuckle. Maybe it wasn’t so rarely that I doubted Dad, because I did hear that one a bunch. My son has heard me say it, at least a hundred times. To me, that line reminds me now that doubting Dad was a waste of time. I can still trust his words. I still do.

Love and pride

Whenever I talked to my Dad on the phone, in my adult years, he would always sign off the same way. "I love you and I am proud of you!” I still tear up, just typing those words. Those are the greatest words a parent can say to a child, no matter what age the child may be. Dad didn’t save those words for times of accomplishment and achievement and celebration. Those were everyday words for my father. They never lost their impact. They still haven’t. On my lowest of days, I never had to wonder if my parents loved me, and if they were proud of me. I still don’t. That’s a given. I probably still can’t begin to estimate what a gift that is!

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Cooking with gas!

“Now we’re cooking with gas!” Dad would have a huge smile on his face when he emphatically said this line. Sometimes, he would literally be cooking, smoking a brisket or frying fish. Sometimes, we would be watching a ballgame, and our team would be getting their act together. Sometimes, it would be when he felt like he was getting through to me. Sometimes, it would be when a plan came together. I find myself saying it now, when I am teaching high school English, and my students seem to respond to what I am trying to teach them. The first time they hear me say it, I get some funny looks. As they hear me say it at key moments, it seems to grow on them. It sure grew on me.

Comments

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on July 12, 2020:

Thank you, Mel. I am glad she is still with you, and you treasure her like you do. Thanks for the kind words. Keep on keeping on!

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on July 12, 2020:

He's about five months older than the person who influenced me most by word and example, my Mother. Fortunately, she is still with us. Thanks for sharing your treasured memories.

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on August 12, 2015:

Thank you so much! Yes, I am a high school English teacher, and I report back to work tomorrow. I had hoped to have about ten hubs published by now, but it didn't happen. I have two in the works that I need to complete and publish. I have a number of more ideas, and I hope to write more about my Dad, down the line, and my Mom. Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, I am blessed to have some followers who are really committed to the community. It's wonderful!

Robert Morgan from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert AZ on August 11, 2015:

Hi Danny, Glad you are here. Hope to see more of your work. You have written a beautiful tribute to your dad. It has touched my heart and brought back many memories. We have an excellent community here, and I see most of my friends have stopped by to see you. We all learn so much from each other. Have a blessed week. Bobby

I am voting you up.

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on August 10, 2015:

Well said, Marlene. That makes me smile.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 09, 2015:

Your dad was a wonderful man. His words left a legacy that will remain forever.

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on July 17, 2015:

You have a way with words, Flourish! He was all of that, and I am lucky!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 17, 2015:

What a wise, wonderful, humorous father and friend you were lucky to have had.

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on July 15, 2015:

Thank you so much! Your kind words mean so much to me! I can't imagine a better compliment!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 15, 2015:

Danny, you were blessed with a wise, loving father and now you're turning into one! Your article is well-presented and very touching.

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on July 14, 2015:

Thank you so much, billybuc! I love it that you enjoyed reading this hub! Your support means the world to me!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 14, 2015:

A very enjoyable read. My dad died in 1969 when I was twenty and I still remember things he said to me.

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on July 10, 2015:

Thank you so much, and I love the part you highlighted. Your encouragement means a great deal.

SAQIB from HYDERABAD PAKISTAN on July 10, 2015:

He focused on the good, not the bad. It was part of the winning attitude he had about life.

wonderful hub. lessonful and emotional 1 for u. overall good hub

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on June 13, 2015:

Thank you, Marti! Your encouragement means a lot to me.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on June 12, 2015:

Oh, how wonderful to have such beautiful memories of your father. I, too, have wonderful memories like this. My father was my hero.

So true: What we say to our children, or in their presence, stays with them for the rest of their lives.

This is a heart-touching hub. Thank you, Danny!

Danny Cabaniss (author) from Shawnee, Oklahoma on June 04, 2015:

Thank you, Anita! Well said! Can I quote you on that!

anita walker on June 03, 2015:

Great quotes.... i love quotes because they are honest and easily burned into memory! Great memories!