Today will be a little more personal than usual. I say this with a smile and a slight return of endearment because after all, isn’t everything personal.
Well, this one is.
I have lived a life with questions and wonders and hopes and dreams. I have lived with the fantasies of crossing over into this success that at last, I made it. Mom would be proud. The Old Man would be proud. They could see me and I could be good. I could be more than good.
Do you even know what I am talking about?
It has been years. Wait, no. It has been decades since the cold month of December, 1989. Nothing about me is the same since then. I don’t look the same or feel the same. Nothing about me is the same, even down to the cellular level. I was only a boy then.
I was a child when The Old Man passed; yet, I was on the verge of my entry into manhood. I was full of wonderful ideas and amazing things. However, being afraid to launch, I stalled more than I tried.
But ah, the ideas. The dreams. The hopes I had and the visions that someday I would stand up and be noticed; that my name would be called or counted and put down in the books as someone who accomplished something.
Perhaps I accomplished something a little more than just great. Maybe I created something remarkable; something life changing, something good or with substance and it meant something – and I could say, “Look Pop, I did it.”
I will say that life is neither fair nor unfair but instead, time moves. We grow and we get older. Moms are always Moms but here’s where life pulls a trick.
There is this thing that happens when life comes around. We grow. We gain momentum and change our system of living. We get jobs and find ourselves with careers or maybe – wait, maybe it’s better to say that our life takes on a shape of its own. We have new places to live. Maybe we own a house or maybe we have a place of our own. And Moms, well – Moms are still Moms. They see us as we were but not as we are.
But again, here’s the trick because we are not as we were. We grew and we changed; but more, we no longer fit in the box that our parents kept us in. The bitch of it is that they need us to because otherwise, this means they are getting old or losing control.
(And losing control kinda sucks … )
One of the many things I discuss when I do presentations is my need to be wanted and loved. I talk about my need to be heard as well as my need to be accepted and regarded. I also want to be someone to be proud of and celebrated.
With both of them together, my parents never had the chance to sit in a room and be proud of me together. I know that people often tell me, “They see me” or “They’re with you” but what people don’t understand is this hurts more than this helps.
When discussing the history of my Father at my presentations, I pound my chest hard, with pride, and pick my head up high. My hand is closed in a fist with my wrist facing inwards and my knuckles facing outwards. I beat my chest and say, “My Father never had the chance to see this. He never had the chance to see the things I’ve done or what I’ve become or who I am.”
Then I lower my head in a depiction of old shames from old past times. I place my hands behind my back to portray the mood and representation of being handcuffed and brought before the judge as I say, “He only got to see this.”
I tell you that time is neither a friend nor an enemy. Time is a commodity. It’s a trade and an investment. It is a quantity of something that is different to each and everyone of us.
Time waits for no one.
I wish he could have seen a few of my things. I wish The Old Man was there to see the things I have accomplished. I brought a picture of him with me to one of my events. I finished my story and without a dry eye in the house, I explained that my Father never had the chance to see any of this.
I pulled out a photograph of The Old Man and as I placed the picture on the podium, I said “So, this time I brought him with me.”
I could hear the sound of breath leaving the lungs of people in the auditorium.
And Mom . . .
I tried. You know?
I wish I could have bought her more things. I wish I could have paid for a series of yoga classes for Mom.
I could have bought her some exercise outfits and she could have bragged, “My son got this for me.”
It’s so strange when the roles change. It’s strange when we are not the kids anymore and it’s strange when it’s us who takes care of them.
But do they listen when we talk? No. They don’t.
They are the parent and we are the child and to them, this will always be the order and routine. Yet, nothing about us is childlike anymore – except for the need to please them or have them acknowledge us. Even still, times like this only come when we feel vulnerable, we’re hurting or brokenhearted.
There are so many times I wish I could have gone back to my childhood home. I wish I could have gone home and sat at the dinner table. Mom could have fed me her chicken cutlets with mashed potatoes. There are countless times when I wish Mom was around or when she was around, I wish she was as capable as when she was younger and said, “It’s okay, son.”
But it’s not okay.
Sometimes life is just not okay.
It’s been a long time since my trips to Florida to see Mom. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of Mom’s old friends.
Mom would brag about me and then I would take Mom out to eat.
She never had the chance to see any of the places I worked. Mom never had the chance to see me perform or speak or present. She’s never been to one of my seminars nor has she ever arrived at an office where I provided service. She never got to see me on the news or read about me in the paper. In fairness, the only time my Mom read about me in the paper was when there was a helicopter chasing me through the town.
I’ve always wished I could have shown them something. I wish they could have been in the boardroom during my sessions called Developing Colleague Connections at one of the largest companies in the world.
See, I do not work for money. I do not work for the prestige of a position. I work to serve a purpose in my heart. I work to gain optionality because I know what it’s like to not have options.
I never had the option of showing Mom or The Old Man my work; therefore, I work hard to make sure that I leave no stone unturned.
Nothing meaningful will ever go unsaid or be left (or lost) to interpretation.
I work to inspire myself. I work to be my own generator because I am my best fuel source. I have to do it this way; which in all fairness, this is why it tends to hurt when we miss a step or make a mistake – time runs out and there are times when we wonder about how much time we have left.
What if we go and we try and we run and we fight yet, we catch ourselves at the door? We run into ourselves and the candle burning at both ends melts down to the middle; the sands of time are nearly drained.
And love. Free time. Life. The tiny little moments that will never appear again; and the sunsets over a little part of town where the orange from the sky shades the Earth; and the moments where life is moving like a well-oiled machine and business is producing, things are well, and there’s no strife or conflict but we are too busy to notice that hey, now is the time to take in the sights. Take notice because these winds might never blow the same way again.
I once did a small book review (with an emphasis on the word small) in the basement of a local library. The room wasn’t nearly half-full but there were people there.
And Mom was in the back.
Mom would shout out and tell me what I should tell the people in the audience. I admit this was slightly embarrassing. But, this was the only time Mom saw me do what I do.
I would give the world to have this moment back again.
I was just sprouting my wings at the time and learning to fly.
I was just starting out.
I do not work to be rich or to gain the wealth that money can buy. No, I am working for a feeling. I am working for a sense of redemption. I am working so that I have options to enjoy more of my life and, yes, I am working and often hoping that wherever they are – Mom, Pop, please be proud of me (faults and all).
I often tell you this but I will tell you again.
I am a real person.
This is me.
Or better yet, this is deep in the heart of me.
Mom and The Old Man never had the chance to see this. So, I have this picture to bring them with me.
I’ve never had my own office with a window and a view. At least, not yet. But to be honest, this is one of the options I am working for.
One day . . .