It was a little cool (57 degrees!) while the Babe and I had coffee on the deck early this morning. Just enough chill until the sun rose above the treeline. It felt as if it will be a glorious day. And it is. Give this a listen. I’ve heard it twice in the past week, and I believe it bears discussion here.
This man is so wise. And wise to know where he learned the most important things in life – from a third grade dropout. So glad to know he and his brothers had enough respect and honor for his father to know the man was far more intelligent than his schooling indicated. I’ve always felt this way about people I know and love.
My husband is a high school graduate, and didn’t like school. He learned by OJT through his career at Watkins Concrete Block, Inc., in Omaha. He was a diesel mechanic for many years. When I met him, he was starting up his ladder, and we both rose, step by step, cheering each other on. He retired as Labor Foreman and Facilities Manager. He has extensive accounting experience and it shows in his work as Quartermaster at VFW Post 2503. He learned by doing.
He always was a boss who considered the tribulations of his workers in his advice to the higher ups. Things that don’t matter in the eyes of management like they do in the eyes of the worker bees. Don’t increase Health Insurance premiums the first of the month. Most guys had to pay their rent or house payments. It makes sense, and his guys never learned all of the ways he looked out for them. He was a combination boss and older brother or Dad to them. Part of why I love him is the way he treats everyone. He’s no pushover, however. Do your job, don’t cut corners, earn your pay. Not that hard. But necessary. Even more so in today’s world.
I’ve seen some impactful videos of folks like Condoleezza Rice discussing the status of America today. She has some great advice for all of us. And a young black fellow, who happens to be a conservative , discussing BLM, voting, and racism with a group of his peers. It was quite enlightening. They learned from him, about how to look at issues instead of only skin color when voting. It was one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. I like the civil discussion. This is what we need. Find Your Broom, folks.
And this example. It was a commencement speaker who talked about the smartest man in the world, his father. The man had a third grade education, but he was more intelligent than anyone about living. It lifted my spirits. I hope it does yours, too.
I was fortunate to have a janitor for a very good friend in the late 1980s. I worked for one of ConAgra’s “Independent Operating Companies”, ConAgra Pet Products, in Omaha, Ne. They occupied a long-since torn down building at 39th and Leavenworth. It was a Manufacturing and Distribution Company, and I started my I/T career there.
The janitor was named Henry. He was a rather famous person. If you look back on old Stevie Wonder Albums, (Songs in the Key of Life), you’ll see in the album notes the alto sax on songs # 5,6,10,13,and 17 was played by a cat named Hank Redd. Hank Redd, of Stevie Wonder band fame, is my friend, Henry. I haven’t seen him in probably 30 years. The year he played for our company Christmas party was the night I was at my father’s wake and rosary. I hated missing his performance, but he did let me borrow a tape. It was great.
He left the music world because of the craziness going on in the early 80s with drugs, etc. He said Stevie Wonder was a great human being, and he hated to leave him. But he had to. He came home to Omaha to take care of his mom and aunt. And he worked as a janitor. He would see me leave every day at lunchtime to go to the hospital and visit Dad. He’d tell me, “Be Strong.” And I could be. When I’d come back, he would be where I had to walk through the warehouse, sweeping his floor. He’d stop me and tell me I could get through this. I doubted him at the time, but he was right.
I’m forever grateful to Hank Redd, for his friendship, love and support during the worst time of my life. One night, I caught an old video about the making of “Songs in the Key of Life,” and I saw Henry playing. It was wonderful. How lucky I was to have that kind of friend at that moment in my life. Henry, if you’re still with us, maybe we’ll meet again some day. And if you’re already gone, I will meet you then. I’ll bring my broom.