Life’s Hard Bargain by Donald G. Denihan


(NewsUSA) - I almost died shortly before Father’s Day in 2012, saved, ultimately, by my father. You might say I found him the night I almost lost my life.

Donal DenihanHe had died nearly thirty years before, but he was with me in the darkest moments of a harrowing, night-long ordeal being stranded at sea off the Bahamas in the midst of a violent storm. Through those endless rain-swept and wind-ravaged hours, my thoughts turned to him.

My father was a veteran of World War II, a product of the Greatest Generation who came home from Europe to build the America of today. He never once said “I love you.” It just wasn’t his way. His way was defined by work at the dry-cleaning business the family had founded.

My father was fond of saying, “No morning sun shines all day.” He said that to make the point that you should save your money. Today, I realize my father might just as easily have been talking about life in general. Life is full of clouds, storms, and darkness that serve to make us appreciate the light all the more. You don’t come out ahead in every bargain you make, but you must strive to honor the terms.

I learned that principle from my father and revisited it, along with so many other lessons he imparted, in that long night at sea when I didn’t think I’d live to see the dawn. Every time I started to slip away, feeling my eyes start to close for maybe the last time, I saw his face.

That night at sea, I started talking to my father as if he were there. I told him I had spent my life trying to do good things and I felt mine was a life well lived. I told myHard Bargain father that before I made a serious decision, I would ask myself, what would Dad do? I knew he loved me even though he never expressed it the way the fathers of my friends did and assured him I had grown into a man who was a lot like him, though inwardly I wondered if I’d be joining him soon.

I think about life as encapsulated in that long night stranded at sea with my father by my side. It’s simple to push down the throttle and pass the channel markers beyond the harbor. It’s easy to leave everything behind in the wake of white water and be free, easy to make a hard bargain with the calm sea. The hard bargain you make with rougher waters is altogether different because you’re at their mercy, a prisoner of their whims.

In times like those, keep your father close, in heart and mind, to guide you clear of the storm and into the light.

Donald G. Denihan, a real estate entrepreneur and waterman, is the author of HARD BARGAIN: What Life-Altering Experiences Taught Me About Faith, Friendship, and Family.

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