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A Man Of His Word

In the rural area where I live, there is an auction just about every weekend. My brother sometimes attends these auctions, and before he goes he calls to ask questions about the farm equipment that is for sale. A few weeks ago, he called a man in a neighboring county and, before he could ask any questions, the man asked, “You said your last name is Bell. Are you any kin to a man that used to run a Ford dealership in Edmonton, John Bell?”

“Yes, sir,” my brother answered. “He was my dad.”

“Let me tell you a story about him,” the old farmer said. “About 30 years ago, I came to Edmonton and bought a used hay baler from him. When I bought it I asked him if he was sure it would work. He assured me that if it didn’t, I could bring it back and he’d make it work. I took it home and when I went to use it, it wouldn’t run. So I brought it back, left it for a week or so, and then went back to get it. The guy who fixed it told me what all he’d done to it and I estimated the cost of the labor and parts at several hundred dollars, so I offered to pay for part of it. Your dad looked me square in the eye and said, ‘No, sir, I told you I’d make it right and I’m going to do just that. You take it on home now and come back and see us again.’ ”

When my brother told me that story, it brought back so many memories of my father, and it reminded me of the importance of having a good name. Not long ago, deals were made with handshakes, and if a man gave his word, he’d never think of going back on it. That’s how my dad was. He was the Donald Trump of farm machinery. It wasn’t so much the money, although he enjoyed that part too, it was the thrill of the deal.

It’s been 10 years since my father died, but he lives on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him. He was a man of honor. He was a man of his word.

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