Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Almost everyone I know has heard either the bible verse from Ecclesiastes 3 or the lyrics to the old Byrds song “Turn! Turn! Turn!”. You know how it goes….
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die….
Not everyone knows what is beyond those first few lines though so here it is…
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him…. 22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
For the past 28 years I have thoroughly enjoyed my work as the PACSMan. I have met some incredible people, developed longstanding friendships, worked with some incredible vendors and basically have been having a blast. Through it all, though, being on my own for the past three decades has allowed me to fulfill my most rewarding task- that of being a dad. Were I to have worked for a big company instead of myself I would have no doubt missed parts of my kids growing up and, to me, that would have been a travesty. Please note that this statement is not intended as a hit against people who work for big companies either. I have seen many individuals who have struck the proper balance between their work and personal lives and done a wonderful job as a father, husband, and employee. I have also seen those who haven’t as well, whose chase to make the almighty dollar has clouded their judgment and rearranged their priorities in life away from where they should be in my not so humble opinion.
My dad was an incredible man but he worked four jobs to support us- his full time job at Fort Monmouth as a supply clerk, at Tomanio Brothers paper store at nights, at Shadowbrook parking cars for $0.25 each, and caddying at Rumson Country Club on weekends. All in all if my high school-educated dad brought in $20,000 between all four jobs it was a good year.
Because he worked so much I never really got to know my dad until several years after my mom passed away. By then he was in his early 70’s and I was almost 40 and I moved him down to Florida. I missed knowing my dad as a child and vowed never to let that happen to me with my own kids. In what many might call a knee-jerk reaction I became the Supermom of dads and can honestly say with that one exception that still haunts me to this day when I simply couldn’t make it home in time, I never missed a single thing my kids did, large or small. And to me that is what has made my life oh so special.
Was it without sacrifice? That depends on how you define sacrifice. Financially I could have literally been a multi-millionaire like so many others I know and been living la vida loca. Over the years I have had several job offers with monetary guarantees that were mind-boggling but I always kept asking myself- to what end? Would it be worth giving up being a key part of my son’s lives to give them financial stability? Do I want my kids finally learning about their dad at age 40 like I did? Every time I heard Harry Chapin’s song Cats in the Cradle playing it made me pause and think. Nah….just not worth it. I also reflect back to a passage in Mark 8:36- “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Is money the end-all be-all that so many make it out to be? Once again the answer is no.
As with all businesses I had some very good years consulting and a few years that would redefine challenging. But the one constant is that I always had my kids and they me, for better or worse, richer or poorer.
So it’s on to the next journey in life- a different one with my kids as adults and a new life with an amazing company. So far it’s been fun. Despite my having to get 10,000 things done by this coming Friday so I can have a clean slate when I start next Monday, the boys asked if I wanted to have lunch with them yesterday and....well….I’m sure you know what the answer was. The pizza was great but the company even better. After all, how many dad’s can have their 18 and 19.5 year old sons invite them out to lunch and even offer to pick up the tab? Life is good indeed.
When my dad passed away at age 84 I wasn’t the 48 year old son mourning his father’s passing but instead a 10 year old boy who had only gotten to know his dad for a few years. I walked into St Anthony’s, the same church I was an altar boy at from age 6 till 13, and the flashbacks were immediate and intense, the only difference now my being that the funeral I was at now was that of my own father. You have no idea how that impacts you. I looked over at my boys, then ages 10 and 12, and then looked at dad’s coffin and felt an immediate peace. Dad always said to me “Take care of my boys” because he never had the chance to do that the way he really wanted to for my brother and I. He took care of us as best he could but at the sacrifice of actually being there. I chose not to make that same sacrifice and did all I could to “take care of (my) boys” then, now, and forever more. They are my reason for living.
Now that my job as a dad has changed over the passage of time it’s my turn to enjoy what life has to offer and I will. My new “job”, if you will, is anything but a job but instead something I am excited to embark upon. It’s a position that is custom tailored to many of the strengths I have developed over the years. It’s also with an amazing company with amazing leadership and an amazing product line. Most importantly it provides me with the chance to be on a team again doing what I do best which is helping people. I love it.
The PACSman will be around for a long time, just not as the PACSMan. My blog will exist in a different form, probably under the name “Confessions of an Ex Altar Boy” and deal with mainly with my personal life, avoiding the controversy that sometimes accompanies PACSMan posts. But I’ll be around So bookmark it- I guarantee you it will be a blast.
So I’ll end it this blog the way it started-
Dominus vobiscum- (The Lord be with you).
Et cum spiritu tuo. (And also with you).
The best is yet to come…