I had my first brush with the love for a man with my father when he used to travel to Las Vegas on business trips. I would sleep with his sneakers. These large old shoes would keep him close or perhaps I felt that if I could somehow hold his shoes close to me, he would never leave. I do not know for sure-
I had my second brush with the love for a man with my Grandfather in Georgia. He was always there, working his house painting job and then coming home at night tilling his garden with his woman there waiting in a little patch of paradise they had both created for each other.
… And my third with my Uncle Troy who owned and worked at an automobile service station. He befriended me, and for 40 hours a week took me to his garage and allowed me to learn and play with the other mechanics, teaching me things I did not know.
My Uncle Jack, my father’s brother, also in my life and still this day, but a little more elusive. I did not have the opportunity to be with him that often, but when families got together, he would be there, calm, confident and knowing. I had the opportunity to travel with him on the ocean in his Cabin Cruiser, just the two of us. It was not a long voyage, but one of those memorable journeys where a boy learns of the dangers of the sea and realizes that when you are present and face life head on and with heart and strength, anything is possible.
George Hollingdale … A man I bought my first car from and the man who taught me how to work on cars, fast cars. Myself and his family lost him way to early, but his lessons have been seared into me and I am forever grateful to have known him.
Paul White … A man who showed me that life is full of work and pleasure- and that smiles and coffee are at the heart of it all.
Stevan Hall … A man who followed his passion for family and art and enjoyment of life while building homes. I have never seen him without a smile and his life circumstances and choices created a path for me to this tropical island in the sea and I am grateful to him for being there for me when I needed him most.
Paul Clark, my mentor in the technology industry and the subject title of my blog “In All Our Years”. I recall a moment with him when I proposed something that he thought was impossible. He was a hardware engineer. I was a software engineer. The hardware, which all lived in a little computer chip the size of your pinky finger nail, was complicated and building it was very expensive. Back in those days we had to build the hardware and then test it, and if we made a mistake, we would have to build it again and again. I suggested we simulate the entire chip in software and let the microcode engineers write the code to be run by the simulator before we built the hardware. I recall clearly when he said to me “Make a name for yourself kid.” and sent me off to the seemingly impossible task at hand. It’s a bit more complicated than this, but in the end, it allowed us to build the hardware just once and it worked- I’ve always believed .. nothing is impossible.
Each of these people have touched my life in the best of ways. As a man, I take their lessons learned, their advice and their love of life and try to live up to these lessons and share their spirits through mine as I continue on and forward. Perhaps I too have influenced others. I may never know.
I am; however, weary from the disconnection from my sons and wonder who now- they love and who teaches them and I hope with all my heart they have an Uncle or George or Paul or Stevan in their life too … because we all need someone to show us that no matter what- we are loved and appreciated and can do whatever it is we want to-
And as I write this little note, Jamie Sullivan keeps coming into my mind. A man who I barely know, but a man who, through his eyes and words, showed me that Love of Life happens daily when you are present, listen and share what you have with those around you.
As I ponder these lessons and experiences, I wonder too if any of you have men in your life who have left their mark in your heart and for whom you credit even in a small way, that you are, who you are, because of their attention toward you.