Our Dad, Joseph Larry Bass has always been, my brother’s and I biggest supporter and most incredible source of inspiration. Our father taught my brother and I many life lessons. Here are some things that we learned from him.
Lesson 1: Find the beauty in the things around you. Our Dad was a strong manly man yet he used the word “beautiful” to describe a beautiful tree, a beautiful flower, a beautiful poem, or a beautiful song. We grew up listening to him talk about the beauty in our world rather than the ugliness that we sometimes read about or see in the news. In the past few years, we have even seen tears in his eyes when he experienced something of beauty. It was not unusual for dad to grab one of us (especially my mom) and show us something beautiful he had found or seen like a beautiful red and white mushroom that looked as if it was from a fairy tale.
Lesson 2: Find your passion in life and pursue it. My dad’s ultimate passion was fishing and boating. My dad and his first cousin Bryant Hill developed an unbreakable bond as fishing and boating buddies.
Lesson 3- Work Hard! As early as we can remember our morning started with our Dad saying, “Wake up! We’ve got work to do!” Dad did not dread work, in fact he loved working around the house (inside and out) every day. If you drove by the house, you would see Dad bush hogging the pasture, working on a boat, weed eating, or working in his workshop or up at the barn. Some of you may not know that Dad built his house on his own 20 years ago when he was battling bladder cancer. Our family has many wonderful memories working along Dad as he built the house. Now we see our Dad in his beautiful handiwork throughout the house.
Lesson 4- Be kind to all and if someone needs help then lend a helping hand. Dad helped anyone that came to his door asking for help. He never questioned their character. At times we questioned the people that asked Dad for help, but he never hesitated. One time he said, “It is not my place to judge. They were brought to my door for a reason and I will help.” Dad loved people and getting to know them. He had a side business of selling boat parts on EBay. After a customer purchased an item he sent very sincere thank you notes and he maintained correspondence with them. He developed friendships with some of his customers. He corresponded regularly with a customer from France that actually lived in a castle, a man from Mexico sent him Mexican Candy, and a man in Washington State sent him smoked salmon. These were ordinary folks that just bought a small boat part from our Dad.
Lesson 5- Celebrate Life! Our Dad loved celebrations with his family and community. He loved planning family reunions with hayrides, bonfires, and fireworks. He would spend weeks preparing for these celebrations, everything from emailing folks to come to smoking beef and pork to make barbeque. His celebrations were not limited to just family members but anyone in Brushy Creek was welcomed. Holiday’s especially Christmas was magical because of our Dad. We would hook up the trailer to a tractor and we would climb in and he would take us to find a Christmas Tree. When we found one Dad would do a Christmas Tree Dance and we would all break out in laughter.
Lesson 6- He believed first Impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follows. So, whether they are in your career or social life, it's important to know how to create a good first impression. In addition to first impressions, dad frequently reminded us the importance of a firm handshake. Eric and I and his grandchildren at some point had to practice that firm handshake with him. As adolescents we would roll our eyes when he talked to us about first impressions and that firm handshake but when we became adults we realized the importance of this lesson.
Lesson 7: Have an opinion and enjoy discourse about your opinion. Our father could be opinionated; however, he was not close minded. You could have a differing opinion but just be ready to debate your opinion. Now we will tell you that he could outlast any of us and typically you just gave up because you were exhausted. He was an avid reader and his knowledge on topics was extensive. He stressed to us the importance of keeping up with current events and knowing what was going on in the world. He never missed a chance to vote. He was one of the most intelligent men that my brother and I know. In recent years, he took an interest in reading the bible and learning about biblical times. We all were amazed at his understanding of the bible and biblical history.
Lesson 8- Dad taught us to respect the men and women that fought for our freedom. Dad’s last assignment was post commander at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. Dad spent most of his working career on various Army Posts (Fort Rucker, Fort Sill in Oklahoma, and Fort Chaffee.) In 1994, Dad received the Department Of The Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award from General William W. Hartzog. The award read: Through his superb leadership ability, expert managerial skills, and unparalleled loyalty, Mr. Bass made immeasurable contributions to the accomplishment of the Garrison’s mission. His exceptional professional knowledge, proven judgment, common sense approach, and devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself, Fort Chaffee, and the Department of Army. Dad gave 100% because he recognized the importance of our armed forces and he was proud to be associated with the Department of Army.
Lesson 9: Spend time with Children! Our dad loved watching and interacting with children. He liked to sit back and watch them explore their world, watch them play, and watch them interacting with each other. Our Dad adored his three grandsons. He had the amazing ability to enjoy and tap into each of their unique interests. He also loved telling silly family stories to the boys. His favorite story to tell them was about the Red Eyed Yellow Bellied Ya Ya Snatcher that lived in the Deep Dark Dank Forest of Alabama.
Lesson 10- The most important lesson that Dad taught us was to live life to the fullest! Our Dad got up every morning ready to tackle the day. Our Dad had many serious health issues but in his whole life we never heard him complain that he felt bad or couldn’t do something that somebody asked him to do. He thanked God every day for giving him another day to do the things he loved and be with the people he loved and he did those things no matter how bad he may have felt or what adversity he may have had to overcome that day. So tomorrow when you wake up, remember to thank God that you are given one more day to do the things you love and remember that Larry Bass would be saying “Wake up! There is work to be done today!”
Eric and Kim Bass
After talking more to Kim about her dad she spoke of how much he loved the sea, and how they selected a casket with sea gulls because it represented the sea and flight. With that, this is the piece I created in his memory.