Earlier tonight I was on the phone with my Mom, talking about my work, how well it’s going, and how much I enjoy the people part of my work — meeting folks, talking with folks, connecting.
She told me that I sounded like my Dad, and reminded me (though no reminder was necessary) that he always stressed the importance of being out there and knowing folks, meeting folks, networking, all of that. He was a small business owner, too, a general contractor and a damn good one. It’s the job he had my whole life, though it would take a few subtly different forms.
Chuckling, my Mom added that though Dad was a real people person, he was constantly forgetting people’s names or how he met them, though he always managed to pull off a friendly conversation and save face. She said that afterward he’d turn to her and say “I don’t know who the hell that was,” and she’d reply that she knew by the look on his face.
I laughed; this, I’d forgotten, though as she spoke of him it came back to me. Or else, it was so easy to imagine him doing and saying something of the sort that I could conjure up the entire vision in my head. Either way, I could totally see it.
I told her that I find myself doing the same thing all the time. I’m terrible with connecting faces and names and my mind is always racing in a hundred different directions at once, so I’m always getting mixed up and feeling awfully and embarrassed about it. I manage it well enough, I think; usually I’m just straightforward and apologetically admit what’s happening. I’m all about owning the gaffe! But though I like to think of myself as a generally straightforward person, I wonder whether it’s also that I don’t think I’m likely to pull off the smooth fake quite as well as my Dad.
I do like to think that I picked up a thing or two from him, though. (Hopefully a lot more than just a thing or two.)
My mom laughed at me heartily, saying “You’re doing the same shit Daddy used to do.” She sounded proud when she said it. I was proud to think it’s true.
My cousin Yvie took a cameraphone shot of this photo of my Dad and sent it to me on December 11, 2009, two days after he died, for a photo slideshow I was putting together for his funeral. Seeing this photo was one of those funny, bittersweet moments of really remembering his character — one of many during those first few days and in the years since. (Thanks, cuz.)
I’m gonna guess that this photo was taken circa 1985, though it could be a good deal older. He looks familiar to me at this age, but also really young; it’s hard to tell.
The outfit is definitely familiar — white painting pants, painting cap, jacket and boots todo pintado. Standard Dad uniform.
The photo cracks me up. He doesn’t look much older than me here. I like looking at this photo and feeling like I can relate to his early 80s self, nearly three decades later. I feel connected to him. And I’m grateful for it.