When I was a kid, I used to visit my father’s factory, and, with our faithful man, Pilo aka “Luca Brazi”, explore and inspect everything like the little prince of the building. When I was older, around high school and college age, I interned in another of his companies, where I learned the term COO or child of the owner. There are a lot of perks with being the SOB (son of the boss), but with them come expectations – expectations anyone really honest with himself knows he can never meet. Now that I’ve officially re-entered the business world, I haven’t been able to escape the thought of having to fill my father’s shoes. But recently I had a realization. A realization that has removed this false burden. Here it is:
Dead men are buried with their shoes on.
Dead men, even great men, are buried with their shoes.
They don’t leave them behind.
What they do leave behind are footprints. Their footprints show us where they walked, where they ran, they show us how far they went, where they tripped and fell, they show us where they stood.
I can’t fill my father’s shoes. They’re not mine to fill. If I tried I’d fail twice: I’d fail to fill his shoes and fail to fill the one I’m suppose to – my own.
What I can do is walk on his prints, to make clearer the path for a following generation, and to create a new set of prints that are mine.
When the workdays turn into work-nights, and when the pressures of responsibility threaten the peace of my heart, I look out the window of my 25th floor office at a building across the street. This building, Strata 100, is probably the oldest along Emerald. It is also the place where my parents first met. A little more than two decades ago, my mother, who worked for a bank down the street, walked over to handle the account of my father’s company. My father saw her for the first time, and after she had left, he announced that she was the woman he was going to marry. And he did. The rest, as they say, is history.
Across me is a father and his daughter. They’re in a table for 2, and they’re both leaning forward with their elbows on the table looking like lovers before they realize there are a million sacrifices that come with staring into each others eyes. He, the father, is wearing his daughter’s backpack – her small purple backpack.
“This is my favorite color,” she says as she points to a pink balloon she just colored.
“I know.” He says, “I know.”