Two Lessons from My Father

My dad, Otto DeCamp, would be 109 today if he were living on this earth, yet what he taught me as a child remains fresh. For example:

1. “Lay it down” (forgive).

Once Dad was driving me through the city. He said, “Jimmy, do you see that red brick church up on the hill? The third row down and fourth from the end…that’s my brick.”

He explained, “The building committee asked me for help in the form of a loan, and promised to repay it. That was years ago. So now, every time I drive by, I just say, ‘That’s my brick, right there.’”

Little did I know life’s myriad opportunities to “lay it down.”

2. “It doesn’t cost anything” (little things are huge).

We played tennis as a family six days a week––whether in Seoul, Karuizawa, Princeton, Davidson, Black Mountain, Wheaton, Jonesboro, Duarte, it didn’t matter––we played tennis everywhere…except Wimbledon.

Typically Dad would play two sets with us kids then, while we went a third set, he would crawl around the fence and pull weeds. By the bucket full he pulled…everywhere he pulled.

He was forever doing acts of service or kindness.

His only explanation: “It doesn’t cost anything.”


I could go on and on about my parents’ lives; writing for my grandchildren’s grandchildren is what I fully intended to do in retirement. Yet with spiritual sorrow, cultural decay, and political upheaval everywhere, I’ve been speaking up in the public arena––for the sake of everyone’s grandchildren––while there is time.