Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mahogany Row

I am a mama’s boy. Always have been. Many of my childhood memories centered around things I did with my mother. I am the youngest, and for whatever reasons, it seemed like her and me were together often. Just the two of us.

I am blessed in many ways, but this may the topper. Because I was influenced, shaped and molded by the most selfless person I have even known. Which is kind of funny since I grew up to be a pretty selfish person. However, I have a very soft and caring side, and the last thing I ever want to do to anyone is hurt them. I have not always succeeded in this goal, but my heart has always been in the right place.

That’s just one of the countless lessons I learned from my mom. Treat people like you want to be treated.

I remember when I was a young adult, about twenty years old and in college. Like most people that age, the future seemed very exciting…and scary. And like most, I truly had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I had no idea where it would take me or what I would do to make a living. Oh sure, I wanted to be the successor to Jack Nicklaus, but my drive and desire to master the game of golf never ran to Tiger-like levels. I played a decent game…but I was not going to be a PGA Tour golfer.

So what was I going to be? I had no clue.

So I asked my mom.

At the time mom was still working as, as she put it, a Bookkeeper. But she was just being humble. She was the Accountant for one of the largest construction companies in Akron, the confidante to the big boss, and the person who knew where all the bodies were buried. She was plugged in to the corporate scene. She knew people. And they loved her because she did her job expertly and could be trusted with anything.

So when I asked her this question, “Mom, what am I going to be?,”  she gave me that warm smile she reactively gave, looked me in the eye and said, “Son, you are headed to Mahogany Row.”

Mahogany Row. I had no idea what that meant. But it sounded nice.

She elaborated. “Son, you are going places. You will one day have a large corner office with people reporting to you. The term comes from the desk you will sit behind. It will be made of mahogany. That’s what bosses sit behind.”

Now. This could, and likely was, encouraging motherly talk. But that did not matter to me. My mom always spoke the truth.

I am honing in on thirty years in my chosen career. Earlier this year I took a job in Miami, which is the best job I have had yet. The money is very good, I am a ‘boss’ to 23 people, and I have a corner window office. But the desk isn’t mahogany…that was the one detail she did not quite get right.

I accepted that position on February 6th of this year. At that time my mom was in a hospice care unit with advanced stages of dementia. I debated whether to even tell her the news, as I am sure she would not have been able to process it. I was so proud of my accomplishment that, finally, I could not help myself. I had to tell her. So I called her at the facility. She did not answer. Two days later she passed away.

At the calling hours that Friday I had a few minutes alone with mom at her casket.

It was made of mahogany.