This morning marked five years since my dad passed. I have been struggling all day to decide what to write. It occurred to me just now that some of my most vibrant memories of him involve the relationships he formed over the years. Not only to family, but also to friends, and the friends that he considered family.
One of my favorite adjectives is ‘gregarious’. Not only is it very fun to say, but I think a very favorable trait in a person. My dad was gregarious. People love him and he loved people. I remember tagging along on the deliveries he made to hospitals and companies for work. We would walk into a company warehouse, and he would be instantly greeted as a friend by those who knew him. In my eulogy I remarked, “My dad was a businessman, but growing up I was never able to tell the difference between his business associates and friends.” He never shied away from a party or meeting new people. Even near the end of his life, he would invite dozens of friends over at once, just to chat and catch up.
I think he learned this from his father. Grandpa had an open (garage) door policy at home. Every time I visited him, people just stopped by for a beer and a laugh. After speaking with him so much, even the mailman came to my grandfather’s funeral. I think that, given the time, my dad would have come to emulate this behavior. I think one of the main reasons he put a toilet in the workshop is so he wouldn’t miss any friends driving by to just say hello.
I took a major life step this year, asking my girlfriend Shelly to marry me. She said yes and we have been a very happy couple ever since. It is an exciting time in my life. I never thought I would find a woman so thoughtful and loving, but I did. Thankfully, I think she has learned to “enjoy” the goofiness that I inherited from my father. I think my dad would probably enjoy teasing her as much as I do. When I was growing up, I swore that I wouldn’t mimic the silly things or tell the dad-jokes he loved so much. However, I have grown older and more immature with age, and I see now why he loved making my mother roll her eyes in exasperation. He certainly is winning.
Out of the many life lessons I learned from my father, one of the most important is the importance of relationships. As I get older, my network of close friends will naturally constrict. However, my father’s actions taught me that new friends are always around the corner, and old friends are always a call and a lunch away.
If you are reading this, I encourage you to take a page out of my dad’s book. Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, just to say hello. If you are in town, meet up with them for lunch. Help spread the feeling of friendship that my father cherished so much.