I usually give myself a week or so to arrange my thoughts and decide what I need to get out of my head and onto paper for this column. I am forever appreciative of your willingness to unburden me of the random thoughts clogging my consciousness. Time is ticking down and as much as I aspired to avoid the cliché of a New Years subject line, my psyche demands that I purge this subject matter from my brain and commit it to written word.
My present captivation with time isn’t simply due to the beginning/end of a year, but also the decade. As I have matured, a mere 365 days holds much less significance than it once did, so looking at a 10-year span of time provides a far richer sense of one’s self-evolution.
So, where was I 10 years ago? Where were you 10 years ago? Did you use your children to provide a baseline reference point? Heck, I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I certainly remember what life was like when my daughters Darby and Maddi were 16 and 14. It was a very good… a very busy time in our lives. All winter I was coaching and both girls were playing volleyball meaning that our family often spent weekends traveling to/from different cities at any given time. Mary Lynn and I were working hard developing and growing our business… life was good. Once the college selection process began it occupied a significant portion of our lives with visits, discussions… many heavy discussions. Darby went on to play Division I volleyball at Troy University in Alabama while Maddi (now Parker) went on to the University of Dayton. Thus began the “empty nest” chapter of our lives and boy o’ boy did we embrace this new opportunity! Mary Lynn and I found when traveling with kayaks, bikes and golf clubs you can find rivers, trails and golf courses nearly everywhere you go. There were many trips to Dayton and throughout the southeast to watch college volleyball games and eventually the college visits concluded with graduation ceremonies.
Despite all these life events, work still consumed a major portion of our focus and time. Mary Lynn and I developed an unusually cohesive relationship working side by side (in the same office) leveraging one another’s abilities and sharing a great respect for one another. Working so closely together it became important for us to develop unique, outside interests we could have unto ourselves. Mary Lynn is active in her church choir and with our beloved Chagrin Documentary Film Festival while I spent time with the Chagrin Rotary Club as well as the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce.
As our decade of time approached its conclusion, seemingly so did the level of activity in our lives. While finishing up her Doctorate in Physical Therapy, Darby announced her engagement to my son-in-law-to-be Sidki. Meanwhile, Parker purchased a home in Cincinnati and announced her engagement to my future son-in-law Jarid. As if this were not enough to fill one’s plate, progress had been made on an inquiry to purchase our 3-generation business and it appeared as though it could become a reality. This came to be another giant leap in life as we slowly approached the possibility of achieving that elusive goal of retirement. So much to think about… so much to consider. Are we ready for this? Can we make this happen? With our minds reeling over the possibilities of tomorrow, the prospect of the sale became more likely, the specifics of the transition more feasible and finally a date was set and all that was left was a bit of time for papers to be signed and the deal to be done.
Talk about a grand finish to my decade! Not only do I see my daughters happily and successfully launching into the beginning of their adult lives, I gain 2 great sons in the process! At the same time, all the long hours, hard work and efforts of our business lives have come down to a few signatures. On that day… that exact day, I was given news that turned everything upside down. The physical discomforts I had been feeling of late weren’t going away by themselves and I was informed that I had stage 3 Melanoma. I was to begin treatment immediately. While the prognosis was good, I had a fight on my hands that couldn’t be ignored. I went from an office filled with doctors to one filled with lawyers… not exactly what I had drawn up on the whiteboard!
So, a new year, a new decade is upon us all and with it comes endless possibilities… boundless opportunities. Looking back to 10 years ago, I could never have imagined the richness of today’s reality… could never have dreamed of what we take for granted today. I remember sitting in Centennial Park in Atlanta wishing I could find a taxi. At my daughter’s suggestion, I downloaded the Uber app and had a ride in minutes. Ordering groceries online, Alexa (turn on the lights), a self-driving car… they weren’t on my radar ten years ago. If you choose to be cynical, you will always have ample subject matter close at hand to bring you down. Climate change, world wars, political division… racism, sexism, classism. I would guess you can easily come up with many more just off the top of your head.
Personally, I look ahead at the next ten years with an even greater degree of optimism than I have looking back. Believe me when I say, I am not deluded into thinking our world is wrapped in rainbows and swirling with butterflies… far from it. However, I choose to view my glass as half-full knowing that the treatments I am getting today (that didn’t exist 10 years ago) will be the reason I will enjoy being a Grandpa 10 years from today.
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!