Saturday, February 24, 2007

An Enduring Influence

Recently I had one of the gripping, so-close-to-reality dreams about my father, Frank, who died 19 months ago this Monday. He suddenly appeared next to me as I was listening to some worship music, and I instinctivley hugged him. In my dream it was a real embrace, similiar to dreams of months past where I have felt his razor stubble or cried real tears as I hugged him with the intent of not letting go. I always awake, and he is not there, of course.

But in many ways he remains with me. Among the priceless treasures found in his home office was a dusty, black folder that was slick to the touch. Opening it, I realized it was his appointment calendar—from 1980, when he was in his mid-50s and really just entering the prime of his sales and recruiting career.

The 12 months are sprinkled with countless appointments, to-do lists, phone numbers, minutia, etc. Things to get done, things crossed out that have been done, things to follow up on. Just the sight of his neat penmanship reminds me of his energy, of his focus, of his intentional way of living and working.

But the deeper sense of his deliberate way of motivating himself and others shone through in what he scribbled across the top of every single page. He jotted down platitudes, phrases, nuggets of wisdom—things he had picked up from others, ideas he had cultivated from books, philosophies he had put together himself. Combined, they read like a small gift book of inspirational thoughts, like the kind you would find set neatly on someone’s coffee table, like a volume you’d select as a present for someone’s graduation or another milestone kind of day.
Having soaked in many of my Dad’s positive, intentional statements during the 37 years I was blessed to be in his presence, I could picture his mind and pen at work as he poured through the days and weeks, planning and plodding.

I see him in January 1980, when I am just a month shy of my 12th birthday, writing in his calendar to, “Make it happen this year…Tune in to the right people…Tune in to the right frequencies…Think Big!”

I dream of him in springtime, in April, encouraging himself to “Keep up the good work…Keep on the ball…Picture the kind of week you want.” I imagine him in the throes of summer, jotting down in June, “STOP! Do not touch that phone...unless you have enrollments on your mind. Then go to it, man,” and “Nothing is too good to be true!!” I can almost feel him next to me in July as he tells himself, “Do not let anything discourage you…Keep you mind on your goal.”
As fall emerges, in October, he tells himself, “What man says of another will be said of him. And what he wishes for another he is wishing for himself,” and, “Now is the time to sell.” And as the holidays and the end of the year draw near, he reminds himself, “Good things are coming to those who are ready and deserving…Let's get the winning feeling.” He even admonishes himself, asking, “Where the hell is the spirit?”

It’s amazing how much of your parents can rub off on you. I spend a lot of time trying to motivate myself and others—I can’t get enough of a good book by a great thinker, I love the energy of positive people, of a great conference or workshop. I celebrate those who are intentional about living an inspired life that makes an impact. In more ways than one, I feel like I am carrying on my father’s life, continuing his work.

There’s certainly been a void in my life since he transcended this world. But yet there also is a deep comfort, a sense of peace, a knowledge that his endearing smile is still falling upon me in some way. I’ve realized I was incredibly fortunate to have the Dad I did, and now I want to ensure that I pass on the blessing. I have two little girls and, God willing, many calendars still to fill.


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