June 8, 2017
I found out recently that I’m going to be a grandfather. My son and his wife will have a little girl at the end of November. She’ll be named Francis Ellen. They like the way her initials sound. Francis Ellen–F.E. So we’ll call her Effie. She’ll call me Pop.
And I’m ecstatic. When I think of her, I think of my old man, my father. He’d love this.
But tonight, the reason he comes to mind is because of the role he’s going to play in her life, even though he died back in 1997, 20 years ago.
Effie will never know my dad other than through pictures and stories she’ll hear from her grandparents and my brother. Effie’s father, my son, hardly remembers Don Watson because he was so young when Daddy died.
But Don Watson, like each of you, followed a path that led him to seek education after most would have said the time was up. His route had some differences from yours. But the bottom line is that he was raised by a single parent after the death of his father, bounced around without much direction, and woke up one day in his mid-20’s. He was married, had children, fought to make a living, and he worried that life wasn’t going to be all that it should.
So he went back to school. While working a full-time job. While raising a family. While doing all that life requires.
I can’t imagine how different my life would have been—not to mention how different his would have been—had he not pursued more education. I was assured chances in life that would have been lost, but for his going to school. It became a part of my DNA, a part of who I was as surely as my height and my good looks. For my brother and me, then for my children and my brother’s kids, and later for what would have been Don Watson’s great-granddaughter Effie, his decision made it so that we felt it in our bones that we would get the education needed to enjoy more happiness and success than we otherwise would have.
It’s what I’m now calling the “Effie Effect”.
One courageous person makes a hard decision to change the trajectory of their life with education. And the good it does flows through generations.
One courageous person has the guts to stick it out when it gets hard and it feels like it would be easier to just quit. And the good leaps into the future.
One courageous person sacrifices so much to live up to their potential. And the potential of multiple generations is realized.
One courageous person loves their family and those coming behind them—even those they may never know—but that one courageous person loves them enough to assure that everyone in that family line will have more opportunity.
One courageous person can create the Effie Effect.
I’m looking at those courageous people. You deserve to be so proud of yourselves for your courage, guts, sacrifice and love. You’re lives will never be the same. And the lives of those you love will be different.
It was worth it. Thank you. Congratulations and good luck. God bless you.