Today, my dad turns 79. For an old-timer, he’s still got it going on. In fact, not much has changed in his daily life over the past decade. He works out. He paints. He takes classes. He messes around with his train set. He fixes stuff around the house. He reads. He grills. He does dishes. He goes to almost all of Sam’s soccer and lacrosse games, regardless of whether it’s snowing, raining, sleeting or blisteringly hot. He snow blows the driveway. He is a patient, supportive husband, father & grandfather. A quiet leader, through and through.
He’s more than that, though. He’s the president of the Joel Friedman school of business. This is a very exclusive school, and to date has only had one student (moi) who, despite his best efforts, cannot quite seem to graduate. The p&l analysis arrives in my inbox each month like clockwork , speckled with green, red & yellow cubes. He analyzes & crunches numbers while I
doodle put on my glasses so I can maybe look smarter. An unlikely partnership, to say the least.
When my father asked me way back when if I wanted his help with my business, I didn’t hesitate. I’m pretty sure my response was a gushing ‘yes please oh thank the lord what took you so long’. I know my strengths, and business/accounting/numbers are not on the list. I didn’t stop to consider the potential impact working together could have on our relationship. While working together offers the chance to spend more time together and get to know each other better, it also opens the door for criticism, disagreement, disappointment and other feelings that turn into thorns in the relationship.
My father is innately a very quiet person with a serious demeanor which has been known to intimidate one or two people, myself included. Because my mother is the main communicator in our family (the understatement of the century), whenever my phone buzzed and I saw that it was my father on the other end, I couldn’t help but get nervous. My automatic response – I’m in trouble. I have no clue why my brain always goes to this spot, but it does. Inevitably, the purpose of the call was innocuous…what time is Sam’s game? Did you get my email? Does Emmy need a ride today? Still, I entered each call on edge.
Each time I answered his call, I would end the call asking him if that was it.
Nothing else, Dad?
No…did you expect something else?
Well, I guess. I don’t know. I just want to make sure I’m not in trouble or anything.
Why do you automatically think that every time I call you, you think you’re in trouble?
I don’t know Dad. Maybe it’s because you’re so serious.
I’m not serious. This is just how I am. Maybe I’m smiling on the other end of the phone & you just don’t realize it.
Ok. Well, since I can’t see whether you’re smiling or not, I would appreciate it if you could at least let me know I’m not in trouble before you start the conversation.
And so, every single time my father calls me, he begins the conversation with ‘I love you & you’re not in trouble’.
Dad – thanks for all that you do for me & for our family. You never gave up on me, and to this day, you continue to do whatever you can to help me learn & grow. You may be quiet, but the impact you have on each of us is huge.
Wishing you an amazing birthday filled with family, friends, puppies, a couple of good presents and, of course, perhaps a chocolate cake baked by yours truly.