Monday, February 10, 2014

Dad, can I talk to you about something?


Many of you that I am friends with knew my dad, and some knew him quite well.  He's been gone for almost 10 years.  There are times that I find that I simply "wish" he were still here, particularly when there are milestones with my kids (both Colin and Audrey have attributes that are very much from my dad). There are little things that the kids do that were part of who my dad was: Colin likes to build airplane models; Audrey loves to draw.

And there are times that I keenly miss him, because he was so good at listening and giving advice - when needed.  In the last 20 or so years of his life, he had become a friend to me, not just a dad.  He'd taken photography trips with me to Colorado, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and all over California.  He'd given me advice on things related to work.  He'd listened to some of my musings on women I was going out with and NOT give me advice.  He'd help me work on black and white photographs in his darkroom, giving me suggestions on various techniques to enhance the image.  He and my wife Lorrie became close rather quickly, and he accepted and enjoyed Justin, who was barely 5 when he first met my dad.  Eventually Justin (who had a few grandpas) called my dad "Yard Grandpa", since he associated my dad with the big backyard that my parents had at their San Clemente home.  

But now, what I miss most, is my dad's wise counsel.  Over the last 12 years (since he suffered his debilitating stroke), I have found that I missed talking to him, bouncing idea off of him, getting his feedback, and in the end, getting his advice.  It was no wonder he'd gone from the outdoor P-38 assembly line at Lockheed in 1942, to managing the entire art and graphics art department with 250 people on 3 shifts working for him in the early 70's: he was calm, cool, and could make tough decisions with perception and wisdom.  And now, as I face what some folk might consider an easy decision on which job offer to take, I find that I wish I could talk to him again.  For me, it's not as easy as taking up an offer: it's about the opportunities, the future, the potential, the security.  But it's also about feeling that I have greater value, and there might be something else out there that could recognize and seize upon that.  I just wish I could walk and talk with him for a few moments, express my thoughts and reasoning, and just hear from him what he thinks is the best choice.  

And in a way, I know what his answer would be.  One time, when he had a minor stroke, and Lorrie was pregnant with Colin, I was in the ER, and he told me to go home.  He told me that it was more important for me to be with MY family, not with him.  In a sense, that incident from nearly 15 years ago tells me what his answer would be: be a provider. But on the other hand, my dad took opportunities when they presented themselves to him, which is why he moved up the management ladder at Lockheed in his 34 years there.  He believed in being financially secure (no doubt from having grown up during the Depression), but he also believed in seizing chances that are presented to you.  

So, dad, what do you think I should do?

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