The World Series was on. I believe it was the summer that George Brett had a batting average over .400 for most of the season, and the Royals were facing the Phillies. My dad was a huge Royals fan. As a rural mail carrier in Rogers County, he listened to the games on the radio as he drove his route and often at home in the evenings. It was that summer that I became a fan of baseball.
Game 1 was about to begin. The players had been introduced and were standing in the infield for the National Anthem. In the middle of my living room, my dad stood at attention, put his hand over his heart, and belted out “O Say Can You Sing”. He didn’t tell me to stand. He didn’t even look at me like a parent often does, letting you know with their expression what you need to do. But I knew if Dad was honoring our flag, then I would do the same. Side by side, in our living room, we stood at attention. Love for my country, my dad, and the Kansas City Royals filled my heart. As a side note, the Royals lost the series 4-2 that year but would return again in 1985 to win over in-state rival St. Louis.
My father’s respect for our flag and country was not passed on to me that day. Like a patchwork quilt, his love and respect for our great country was woven into the fabric of my life through many stitches over time: at parades, when the flag would pass; any sporting event; the way our family celebrated on the 4th of July. He never told me I had to honor our flag, respect our elected officials, or love our country. He showed me. It worked.
As a father to three great kids, I often think of Dad standing at attention in our living room that day. It reminds me that I need to use fewer words to instill the values I desire in my children and instead, practice up on my sewing skills. As I watch their quilts being made, there are pieces already woven that make me cringe. My kids have picked up on some of my habits, both good and bad. The beauty of a patchwork quilt is that, over time and with great patience and skill, all the pieces come together to make a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.