Bucket List item #13: Do something special for Tim
Hey Rich, what’s the deal with “Do something special for Tim”? You know, #13 on your bucket list. Who is he and why does he make it on to the list and I don’t? I’ve received a number of inquiries just like this one since publishing my Top 100 things to do before I die list. I know, I know. It might seem strange to state something so vague for what is quite obviously a very specific person. Well, I’ve been thinking about it for years and toyed with many ideas to let this person know how much he’s meant to my family over the years. But nothing felt “right”. I finally came to the conclusion that simple, in this instance, would be best. Rather then perform some sort I grandiose gesture, I thought there would be no better way to do something “special” for Tim then by putting my thoughts on paper and speaking from the heart.
My parent’s immigrated from Portugal to the states in the mid 70s to start a family and hopefully build a better life. Their assimilation into the country, as one would expect, was extraordinarily difficult. Both lacked formal education, didn’t speak a word of English and had virtually no money. Couple that with the fact that there was a lot less tolerance for immigrant workers back then. Kindness was not exactly doled out on a daily basis if you catch my drift. To this day, I’m still amazed they had the courage to take on such odds as they were most certainly not in their favor.
My mom managed to land a few jobs early on as an assembly line worker while my dad took up construction and any odd jobs he could get his hands on. They scrapped, clawed and saved every penny they made. Little by little, their way of life improved, as of course did the life of my sister and me. My mom eventually landed a job at Sikorsky where she still works to this day after 20+ years. My dad, on the other hand, continued to bounce around from one job to the next. His body took a major beating from years of construction, but he kept doing what he had to do to get by.
About 12 years ago, my dad accepted a job working as a jack of all trades handy man at a very nice beach-side condominium complex called Heritage Sound. It couldn’t have come at a better time. He had just experienced a very negative work experiences prior, so he was very much looking forward to a fresh start. The scope of his work encompassed the entire community and would include things like lawn maintenance, snow removal, plumbing, carpentry, managing contractors, etc. There would be only two people managing the entire work load. My dad and some guy by the name of Tim.
Tim’s a skinny, mild mannered fellow with a warm smile. He’s the kind of guy you can easily have a beer with and always count on him to have your back. I guess you can say my dad clicked with Tim from the moment they first met. Oddly enough, they had a lot in common even though Tim’s much younger than my dad. Before you knew it, they were helping one another out with side projects with some degree of regularity. My dad loved it, and these little joint experiences made for great bonding time. Before you knew it, they became very dear friends. À la, “partners in crime”.
For the first time ever, my dad experienced something he never had before: He landed a job he truly liked and genuinely enjoyed working with his new friend. It became apparent to me (and my family) early on that Tim helped my dad see things differently. My dad has always been pretty set in his ways. His world perspective was a direct result of his old school upbringing in Portugal, so aspects of American culture didn’t always make sense to him. I recall a number of instances when my dad would say “Tim said this or Tim mentioned that” followed by some new piece of wisdom he’d learned from the interaction. Of course, none of this happened overnight, but little by little my dad’s old-school mentality started to become, dare I say, reasonable or even flexible. Ah yes, my father had become Americanized. In a good way, of course.
What more can I say other then Tim has had a profoundly positive impact on my father’s life, which in turn has trickled down to the rest of our family. Before Tim, my dad always put up a brave front when it came to his daily work routine. But I’ll never forget the physical and mental toll it took on him. More to the point, it never really dawned on me just how unhappy he must have been in those days until I compared it to his level of energy and contentment working with Tim. I’ve never shared this perspective with Tim or my dad before, but I have with my mom and sister. It was never a lengthy conversation, but it was always understood just how much of an impact Tim has had on our family. In fact, we speak of Tim as if he really was part of our family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you Tim:
I’ve been wanting to share this perspective with you for years. I know it might seem like it’s coming out of left field, but I think it’s important to pause every once in a while to reflect on family and friends. Whether you realized it or not, you’ve had an incredibly positive impact on my family in so many different ways. The camaraderie and trust you’ve forged with my father has given him a sense of confidence and pride he infrequently experienced before meeting you. Honestly, that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.
From attending weddings to helping out in times of need and everything in between, you’ve always been there for us. Just as we’ll always be there for you and your family. Please forgive me for being overly sappy for a moment, but I truly thank you for being the person you are.
All the best!
The following photo was taken moments after I gave my dad and Tim a framed portrait of the “Partners in Crime” image seen on the header of this post. They seemed to like it.