Having suffered health issues, my dad became less involved in the day-to-day management of our company. With time on his hands, he would often suggest that we take a drive somewhere “to see what’s going on.” Invariably, he would pick a time that I was the busiest and I would—reluctantly and somewhat resentfully—agree to go.
Often the Florida Gulf Coast town of Crystal River would be our destination. Since it was “on the way,” we would detour through Yankeetown and check out, Bonita, the fishing club he had been a member of for over 40 years. As we drove to the club he would point out Bell’s creek where years before the members would meet for a drink to sustain them through the 30-mile drive; and he would recount stories of fishing trips, poker games and dinners from long ago. Once there, although he no longer fished, he would quiz the caretaker about who had caught what.
Leaving Bonita we would pass by the Florida Power’s Crystal River plant and he would recount the work our company did there. His favorite story was how his general manager, Bob Wooten, almost tumbled off of the roof, when the plant’s manager accused our company of causing $50,000 of damage to electrical equipment. At the time, he thought it would break the company but everything turned out O.K. and he could laugh about it.
In Crystal River we would eat at the Oyster Bar Restaurant where, if it was an “r” month, we would both order fried oyster sandwiches. Served on a bun, with perfectly fried, plump oysters, lettuce, tomato and a house made tartar sauce, it was probably the best sandwich ever. The waitresses knew, flirted with and catered to him, so my father would leave a large tip and depart smiling and happy.
The retirement community of Beverly Hills fascinated my father and as such, was often on our route home. He couldn’t get over so many people living so far from the nearest city: “Why would anyone want to live, in the middle of nowhere; it doesn’t make sense?” Now, when I drive past the Villages—where once pasture is now thousands of homes—I wonder, if still alive, what he would have to say.
When we would arrive back at our office, he would call it a day and I would stay for hours making up for our time touring. I always had mixed emotions, enjoying spending time with and learning life’s lessons from my dad but begrudging the time away.
Now, my resentment has turned to regret: remorse that I didn’t spend more time with my father; rueful that I didn’t appreciate the opportunity to breakaway from routine, refresh my mind and spend time with a wise and loving mentor. A few more hours in the office was a small cost for the benefit gained.
Our mentors, our families, our friends, colleagues, partners and even our special customers are not always going to be with us. An extra hour spent—even a few minutes conversation—truly focusing on the people special to our lives, will never be regretted
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Bixton