Today is my father’s birthday. 78 years young, my father embodies the kind of person I hope to be when I grow up.
It was clear from a very early age that I just might have been the mailman’s daughter. Joel is remarkably smart, whereas I consider myself smart-ish. He can do mental math. I struggle turning on my calculator, and then have to call my trusted bookkeeper to ask her what numbers I’m entering and whether I’m multiplying or dividing these numbers. He’s reserved, kind, generous, non-judgmental, artistic, realistic, motivating, and relentlessly supportive. If someone was put on this earth to try his patience, trust me…it was yours truly. (My daughter has earned runner-up in this category…the apple fell right next to that tree). And yet, instead of becoming frustrated or irritated with me, he opts instead to step back, let me flounder around for a bit, and only reaches out again when the timing seems better.
My parents moved from New Hampshire to Boxborough five years ago at my request. I lovingly announced that I was happy to take care of them as they entered their golden years; my only stipulation was that they had to move closer so that it was convenient for me. (so embarrassing.) Between my kids and the business, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to NH on any kind of regular basis. Instead of being annoyed by my selfish suggestion, they rallied and now live about a half a mile away from us. It’s been a true gift having them so close to us. Drop by the sidelines of any of Sammy’s games, and you will see my dad. Raining? No problem…he has rain gear. Jacob playing football in freezing weather? Yup. There’s Joel with five layers of clothing. If I failed to dress warmly enough, it’s ok – my dad has extra layers in the back of his car. Just in case.
My father has been by my side since I started Babycakes in my house in 2005. We’ve been through everything together, and to his credit, he continues to find a way to tolerate me in spite of my lack of business acumen. Having a business conversation with Joel is almost like being dropped in the middle of a foreign country without knowing the language. I nod ‘knowingly’ while I listen to him talk gross profit margins, labor as a percent of sales, the ‘v’ column, why he highlighted office supplies in red (not good) and why another column is colored green (we like green). What I love the most is that he’s picked up on the little things that make me happy. For example, I love to hear when things are going well. My father used to do his analysis with little differentiation between the good and the bad. When I pointed out that we should celebrate the good, he heard me and started using ALL CAPS here and there, and more recently, even threw in an exclamation point or two. Nothing makes me happier, and my goal is to have at least a few ALL CAPS and one exclamation point a month. Got that dad? 🙂
I will end this by saying that I feel very fortunate to have such a good role model for my children and me. My dad is a humble guy and is probably reading this with a half smile, half wince. His preference would be a simple Happy Birthday phone call as opposed to this. Sorry Dad…I had to do this. You’re one very special person to me, to Eddie, to the kids, the puppies, to Marge & the rest of our family, and even guys behind the scenes deserve a little shout-out now and then. Thank you for everything. I promise to keep working hard and to listen to 75% of what you say. I promise to read your emails all the way to the end and respond in a timely fashion. I promise to become the best inventory-counter ever. Finally, I promise to do what I can to be the kind of role model to our kids that you have been to me. Have a great birthday Dad – wishing you a year filled with good health, lots of good times with family & friends, successful model airplane flights, good vacations, a driveway that never needs plowing, success with the back yard animal situation, and hopefully a quality chocolate cake for dessert every now & then. Love you! xoxox