Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve, 2004

Christmas Eve, 2004

While I normally try to stay on topic in this blog, I allow myself one day a year to reflect a bit, personally, here in public on Christmas Eve, as I did two years ago and last year. Not only is the day a useful point for self-examination generally, but it is also the day that my Dad died in 1993. So, since then, the day has taken on a new, more sober, meaning.

It is hard to believe that it has been 11 years since Dad lost his year-long battle with cancer. His influence on me is immense. He and I were blessed with a wonderful friendship that avoided many of the periodic estrangements typical between a father and son. His lived out before me and spoke explicitly with me about business, entrepreneurship, risk-taking, risk-avoidance, dealing with colleagues and competitors, handling finances and embracing change. His 78 years were a marvelous gift to me and I am deeply grateful and humbled by it. And his influence remains very real and current, which is why it is hard to fathom he's been gone 11 years. If you are interested, feel free to look at some web pages my sister Karen Eichstadt put together about Dad's early years and college days at Notre Dame where he played football and learned much. You might get a small sense of who he was.

Thoughts of my Dad naturally trigger reflection on my own role as a father to my sons. My oldest, David, is much on our minds. He's an Army Medic serving in Iraq, staffing an Army hospital in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad and 30 miles from Fallujah. (here he is and here he is with his unit). His wife Susan and twin sons are living nearby us while he's deployed. It has been quite a mental adventure to have a son in harm's way, daily, which isn't explainable in any short piece of text. Suffice it to say, we've come to grips with it and are quite proud of him. Our local newspaper ran a story this morning on him and a peer of his who are both in Iraq.

My middle son Nathan (on the right, with his cousin Andrew and the twins last summer) has landed well in Portland, Oregon, finding a solid job in Human Resources in the past year. My youngest, Matt, is a sophomore in High School and got his driver's license last week. They are both marvelous guys, deep thinkers and building significant strengths of skill and character.

Each one is different...each one is alike. I think of my Dad a lot, hoping to emulate his ability to teach and mentor each of them uniquely, just as he lived out a principled life for his wife and four kids.

Now, let's see...if my son has sons, would that make Gretchen and me (gasp) grandparents? Yeah, I guess so. And it leaves me laughing and in a sense of awe, all at the same time. Because, you see, now there are two more sons to teach and mentor. Dad's laughing with me. And his example continues to the next generation.

Thanks for listening. My best to all my readers for a most Blessed Christmas and a very Happy 2005.

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