Half the Man · 4 June 2016

If you were half the man…

Normally, the expression that starts, “If you were half the man…” is an expression of disgust or derision. At the very least, it is a non-flattering comparison to another person being held up as a good example. But I would take it as a high compliment indeed if somebody told me that I was half the man my father was. Even so, one of my dad’s best friends tells a story of the normal use of the expression.

Larry and Dad worked together for many years. Decades even. So they knew each other well. At the end of a stint in Montana, Dad was released. I am not sure if he was fired, per se, but the parting was not on the best of terms. The reason was because Dad, being Dad, would not fudge some numbers on a report to make the company look good. Consequently, management needed him out of there, and so he was let go.

Photo courtesy Connie Millard

Larry still worked at the company at the time and one of the managers came to his office to chat. The manager said, “Well, we finally got rid of that Jap,” and smiled at Larry to get his agreement.

Larry did not smile back. In fact, he scowled at the man (at least he scowls when he tells the story), “You’ll never be half the man that Ken Miyoshi is,” and he told the man to get out of his office.

Whenever I hear Larry tell the story, I think, what a loyal and true friend he has always been. What a man of integrity. Dad was not there, but Larry would not let somebody else put down his friend. A friend, who like himself, instilled trust, loyalty, and indeed love in those who knew him.

I know that Larry’s story is just a snapshot of who my dad was, but person after person could tell similar stories. Not necessarily that they had to defend my dad and his integrity, but stories of friendship going beyond the norm.

Which is why I would consider it a compliment if anybody ever told me that I was half the man my father was. If I had half the friends with even half the loyalty that my father engendered, I would be happy. If I had half the positive impact my dad had on those who knew him, I would be fulfilled. If I was half as good of a husband and father that my father was, I would be satisfied.

One of my own stories of dad’s selflessness is simple but poignant. I had called him to see how he was doing after one of his stints in the hospital. I knew he could not be doing so well, but he said he was okay. Then, he asked me about my health. He wondered if things were going well with my eye drop routine and if the doctor was taking care of me. Just a simple question or two, but I could not believe it. Here I was trying to find out about his health and give him some encouragement, and he ended up doing those things for me.

It was a short conversation or at least that part was, but I remember it as a demonstration of his undying love and devotion to me. And he was that way to all he knew.

I know the expression, “If you were half the man…” is not usually a complimentary one, but I would consider it an honor if anybody ever told me that I was half the man my father was.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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