I usually don’t write about my childhood stories, but this morning I was inspired by a dear friend who saw a picture of me at 10 years old. How far back does that go!
My father was an entrepreneur, although I don’t know if he knew what the word meant. A self taught man, there was nothing he couldn’t do, nothing he wouldn’t try, and I never recall him saying no to me if I needed or wanted his help with something. He liked that I was smart and although he would never say it, the smartest kid of 3 in the family; smart and appreciative, and so he had fun when we worked together.
One snow packy winter day, perfect for snowmen, when the lawn mowers are itching to come out of their winter hibernation, he went outside after breakfast and proceeded to build what I thought was a snowman. Well, after hours and hours he invited me outside o see the most beautifully sculpted snow horse I had ever seen. Every curve of its flowing white mane, every rippling muscle, nostrils wide and flaring, looking at those he was running at top speed.
I immediately began to cry. I had always loved horses, but we could never afford one, so this was my next best thing. His name was Silver, not even a hint of a question about that, and he was the fastest horse in the world. Every morning and every night I covered him with a fresh coat of ice water to preserve him as long as I could.
Neighbors stopped by to comment, people driving by in cars slowed down to “ohhh” in wonder at this marvelous creation, and the local newspaper even did a feature story with pictures on my Silver and how it all came about. I loved that horse and I loved my father so much for such an amazing gift straight from his heart. I don’t know what prompted him to do it. I was only 10 and didn’t think to ask or know how to formulate the question.
But, good things too come to an end; and the day came in April when the sun rose too high in the sy and no matter how much ice water I used I couldn’t keep him from beginning to show the telltale drips that meant he was melting. I sat with him outside as one would keep vigil with a sick friend, begged to sleep outside in case he needed me – “No, it’s too cold, Judy, you’ll freeze.’ From the wisdom of my mother. From my father, a tear – he understood but reality won out.
In the morning I raced down the steps and outside to see a shell of Silver, trying to stand proud, and melting. In 30 minutes it was over – he was gone.
I didn’t know at the time it was possible for a child to cry that much. I sobbed for hours, first hanging onto him and then in my bedroom. My heart was broken for the loss of the most gracious gift, the unexpected loveliness of it all, the hours we played together, and the possibilities of what might have been, the unrealized dream that has never died.
Exhausted finally from the tears and emotion, I went to sleep and dream t of my darling Silver, my father, herds of horses and love beyond measure.
Now what does this have to do with marketing, you ask. Of course, everything. Marketing never ends – building relationships never ends. Keeping your name “out there” never ends. You my dear therapists are providing such a marvelous service, helping people end their anguish and suffering. If you are good, you know it in your bones. Please share that expertise with others. My father kept that marvelous talent hidden for over 20 years – a terrible waste of a gift. And then one day, it burst forth – it was as if the world was too small for him all of a sudden – he HAD to share it.
He periodically did things like that as time went by – amazing, delightful surprises. He owned three businesses in his lifetime – all successful. And as I watched, and listened and learned, I watched him first build the trust which takes time. He was willing, more than willing. One of my very favorite tips he used – another grocery story opened their doors close enough to ours to be a real threat. A bit newer, more modern, but my dad had trust already stored up for years. When mom sent the kids to the store for a loaf of bread, they had a choice – newer or trustworthy. They always chose him. He taught me his secret. When the got an ice cream cone, he gave an extra dip. When they got candy, same thing–”a little extra on the side for you, he’d say. And countless other stories. It rubbed off…more value to the customer whenever possible, keep building the trust and he always shook their hand and said good-bye, come back now and called them by name. I loved that man so much and never , ever told him enough. “Do you hear me now dad?”