Celebrating (a) Life
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. And I told them they didn’t understand life.”
So I guess there’s nothing like friends, family, and a funeral to help you get over yourself.
And instead of letting small business challenges get the better of me, I think I’ll take the time to smell some roses. Yeah, I’ll be taking some time even though those potted plants are probably better known as human resources, payroll taxes, and cash flow.
Today we celebrated the love of first-cousin Rosemary’s life. And if you knew Jerry, you also knew he was way more concerned about your kids, your business, or even your golf game than he was with any complaints about his own multiple sclerosis. Jerry was a really active, athletic guy and had retired young from Mobile Oil only a year or so before learning the life-altering news. When Jerry was diagnosed with the cruel disease, he kept it to himself for a while; only because didn’t want to upset friends and family
I’m not sure Jerry and I totally agreed on everything but I also know he never once wasted his time trying to make me wrong. He was such a cool guy that when I was lucky enough to attend the Masters at Augusta National my favorite memory of the whole experience was a brief conversation with my wheel chair-ridden buddy on receiving his authentic Masters’ baseball cap.
And sometimes when I’m alone at night looking at Charter Communication’s 52” HD frozen image of Mike Scioscia or when I’m wide awake at 3AM processing stuff like tomorrow’s to-do list or our practice goals or our not necessarily robust profit margin, I’m first envious and then maybe even a little bitter. Today, I remembered bitterness is a waste of time. I learned my envy was misplaced.
So why, after some 30 years, am I still in the office seven days/week and working with a plan to grow over the next 4-5 years? Shouldn’t I be on a beach in the Keys attached to the working end of a Corona and hangin’ out with Jimmy Buffett? Gotta admit sometimes it’s kind of scary (on several levels) just driving down Las Tunas thinking about all the anxiety we’ll encounter on the way to our business vision of the future.
However, driving down the 605 to Huntington Beach and a funeral mass, my thoughts were far removed from business as usual. There was the typically snarled morning traffic, some sports talk radio offering background noise and my mind’s eye operating at least 20:20. I was picturing Jerry and I couldn’t come up with a mental snap-shot that wasn’t smiling that authentic smile of fulfillment.
And walking in the front door of St. Simon & Jude the first thing I saw was a picture of Jerry, smiling larger than life and even larger than Scioscia.
During the service the priest and family shared some thoughts and stories; one of the more recent ones was about happiness. I know from experience that being the caregiver for a loved one is physically and emotionally really tough work, some of which you never imagined ever doing. So Jerry asked Rosemary if she was still happy; she looked Jerry in the eye and said “yes.” When Rosemary returned the question Jerry responded “I’m happy only if you are.”
The day after my Mom died I realized caring for her was the best job I’ll ever have; I know first-cousin Rosemary will agree.
A wise Sicilian mentor once shared, “Jack, you are so stupid; it’s not your life, it’s just your job.”
Of course he wasn’t totally right, but then again he too wore that smile of authentic fulfillment; he was definitely happy.
Nothing like a funeral to help you get over yourself and remember it takes at least two to love. And maybe “happy” is a good thing to be when you finally grow up.