4 years ago today my Dad died.
Oh, and I’ll let you know about the “Old Song” later in the post. You need to read to the end and listen to the recording to get this. For real. And, yes, there is a leadership lesson in all of this.
Way, way before my Dad was even diagnosed with lung cancer I remember a conversation our whole family had over dinner. Somebody we knew had just died and my family started talking about this person’s life. Reminiscing about good times we had with this person, talking about the funeral, how good the service was, how sorry we felt for so-and-so, and how much this person would be missed. Without skipping a beat my Dad said, “you won’t remember this person in 2 months.” My sister and me were like, “Say WHAT?? You are clearly insane.” Dad replied, “The reality is about 2 months after someone dies, people just forget you.”
This is one time my father was simply, emphatically wrong.
Since he died there has not been one day I have not thought about him in some small way. These days the thoughts are more lighthearted than sad thank goodness.
I think the context my Dad may have framed his comment was by correlating how many times someone visits a gravesite with how much that person is missed. Now… I can’t tell you the last time I went to Dad’s gravesite and yes, I feel guilty about that, and yes, when I go and see someone else has put flowers at the site (yes, that would be you Sara and Joe Warren, the greatest people I know) I let out a big ole sigh of relief, then feel guilty, then feel relief, yada.
But here is the deal. The people who loved him, think about him every day.
So, leaders – here is your take away.
People who spend great deals of time with you remember you.
People remember what you did for them. People remember what you didn’t do for them. People will remember until the day you die if you treated them like crap, remembered their kid’s birthday, or threw them under the bus. They will remember when you advocated for them, when you taught them a new skill and when you made their spouses feel welcome at the company Christmas party. They will remember when you kicked them when they were down, abused your power or gave them a BS reason for not given them a raise. They will remember if you loved them.
So about that song. I used to sing in a band in college. My mom and Dad came to every local gig. I mean every one. They sat at the back of every dive bar and drank beer and clapped and cheered . They watched me and the guys sing and drink and smoke (cigarettes) and have fun and be young (see below!). Everyone in the crowd knew them.
Our band covered Neil Young’s song, Old Man, played it every gig, and we always dedicated it to my Dad.
So on this 4 year anniversary, me and my lifelong friend and musical partner, Scott Rogers, did a version of Old Man for my Dad. Here it is.