JB, age 11, uses an expression that I do not particularly care for, but today it seems all too appropriate. So, just for today and today only, this word is grandfathered into our vocabulary. Although JB typically uses the term to discuss anything basketball, I find it absolutely perfect to discuss my mood as of late.
The last few days, I have been feeling suck-ish. My writing feels suck-ish, my neck is suck-ish, my cooking is suck-ish. Well, you get the point. Everything is just feeling suck-ish.
What is at the root of all this suck-ish-ness? Oh, my sore neck, the awful weather, my 28 day cycle, and it dawns on me this morning – nine years ago today, I lost my dad. It has been looming. I got the letter from the Temple to remind of the anniversary, my mom and I talked about it, and there is always the reminder that he passed one month before BB was born (his namesake of course).
Shit – this stuff does not really get any easier. My ‘dad’ was not my ‘real dad,’ but rather my stepdad. My parents separated when I was a newborn, and my stepdad (since I was four years old) was the only dad figure I really knew. An overbearing, loud, pushy, easily agitated teddy bear from Brooklyn, my ‘dad’ taught me all I know.
He made sure that I knew how to behave, how to be brave, how to travel independently, and even caressed my save the world mentality as a social worker. He knew that he taught me the skills of an entrepreneur, and right about now he is smiling in lobster-filled heaven knowing that I am using those skills.
I allow the word suck-ish today because my ‘dad’ called it like it is. He didn’t hesitate to speak the truth. The guy that broke my heart and sent me to his shoulder crying was a dumb-ass and my mom did not know what she was talking about when she said I was a bad driver. Although gruff, my ‘dad’ was real. People loved and admired him for this.
There was no suck-ish in my dad’s world, just a drive to find better. The baby of eight children from a poor family in Brooklyn, my dad left home at 18 to earn a living in Pittsburgh, PA. He had no money to his name, no way to pay rent, and had no idea that he did not get paid for 2 weeks. Suck-ish – no way! My dad slept in his car, worked 2 shifts, and showered at the YMCA. He retired at age 21 for a year he was so successful.
Precisely why today is so suck-ish. The one person that always searched for the silver lining is gone.
My dad went on to build his own entrepreneurial business, enjoy many of life’s finer things, but never forgot where he came from – ever. His oldest sister who helped raise him was golden to him, and later in life, he took care of her. He gave an apartment to the maintenance worker in his building who suffered a head injury and was subsequently left handicapped and ‘slow’ – finding him odd jobs to help pay for it. He was an outstanding stepdad who took me under his wing and took me on my first plane ride. When I was sick or my 2 cousins were not feeling well, we knew who to call to pick us up at school.
My dad was just that kind of guy. His loss blanketing the last few days as the anniversary of his passing approached. We call it a Yahrzeit in the Jewish Religion. I call it suck-ish. It is so suck-ish that my ‘dad’ is not here to meet his 2nd grandson. I hate that he was not here to hear JB read from the Torah for the first time a few weeks ago. I have a conference call for packaging for my product in 2 hours that he should be on with me.
This morning as I prepared a meatloaf at the crack of dawn because I was fidgety, I experienced a brilliant moment. Who would have thought over meatloaf that can happen? I was using The Bag Holder, a mom invented product, to help me avoid handling the raw meat (ick – cannot stand that), and JB commented ‘Oh great! You are using that mom product. Does it work well? Do you love it?’
At this very moment, I knew that building a business, inventing a product, growing this blog, and working with other moms on their business ideas completes me in my kids’ eyes. I am doing something that I believe in and they see that. The lessons that I am learning, I am teaching them at the same time. Small business is cool, Startups are profound, and it is awesome to support other moms in business.
I miss you daddy.