Big Tom, as we called the World’s Greatest Dad, left us way too early ...
This ex-Marine with the huge heart was our “rock” — a model of stability at work (45 years at one company building fast planes and stuff that went to the moon) ... in marriage (he and Mom together more than 50 years) ... and for always-solid guidance or a shoulder, when needed.
Especially when asked ...
Sometimes when you didn’t.
Father’s Day is for especially celebrating his gi-normous impact on my life.
And along this five-plus decade journey so far, the truth is I’ve leaned on other paternal figures along the way.
None more than Danny O’Brien, my first corporate boss for the then-pride of Long Island: Grumman Aerospace Corp., where my real dad worked, too.
Danny’s was a refreshingly unique spin on the world that caught me at a very impressionable time. He was more like a life coach, long before the term existed.
His philosophy was showcased in his ongoing collection of rubber-stamps that he would regularly hammer on our hard-copy assignments during the dark ages before email. The stamps were simple, yet pointed and profound ...
» It won’t get done looking at it.
» It only hurts for a little while.
» If you have a lemon — make lemonade.
» If you don’t like it — you’ll probably never be any good at it.
Just found my copy of his My Daddy Said self-published six-page booklet that contained samples (stamples?) of his entire collection.
It’s been my personal GPS since an autographed copy arrived in the mail shortly after we moved to Santa Barbara in 1979 ...
» Evaluate what you have — it may be what you want.
» If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere.
» What were your problems last Thursday?
» If you think you can — you will. If you think you can’t — you won’t.
» No one is better than you — but you are no better than anyone else — unless you do something to prove it.
The booklet’s whimsical dedication is “so him” ...
To me, no one and everyone who has ever asked themselves: “What’s it all about, Alfie?”
And continues with the preface ...
Remember, no one ever gets out of this world alive. Therefore take care of yourself, be cheerful and helpful, listen more and talk less, and please don’t take yourself too seriously. Be cautious of giving advice and do not equate money with success. The person whose verdict counts most in your life is the one staring back from the glass. So when it’s all said and done, your final reward may be heartache and tears or happiness and good health, but it will be your decision, no one else will be to blame. You make your life what you want to make it.
Then, on the back page, are 10 timeless, golden nuggets ...
» Keep skid chains on your tongue; always say less than you think. How you say it often counts more than what you say.
» Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully.
» Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word to or about somebody. Praise good work, regardless of who did it.
» Be interested in others, their pursuits, their work, their homes and families. Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard them as a person of importance.
» Be cheerful. Don’t burden or depress those around you by dwelling on your aches and pains and small disappointments.
» Keep an open mind. Discuss but don’t argue.
» Let your virtues, if you have any, speak for themselves. Discourage gossip; it is a waste of valuable time and can be extremely destructive.
» Be careful of another’s feelings.
» Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you. Simply live so that nobody will believe them.
» Don’t be too anxious about credit due you. Forget about yourself and let others “remember.” Life is much sweeter that way.
As the years have since rolled along, I’ve tried to follow these ... and there have been some painful bumps along the way when I didn’t.
So, today on this Father’s Day, my love and forever admiration goes out to my real dad, Big Tom, and all the other wonderfully generous paternal role models like Danny who have helped me become the person I am today.
Putting my own “stamp on life” is a forever work-in-progress ...
And I still gots some more work to do!!