Why I'm Thankful
Good Karma, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Greetings from New York, where I'm thankful. I'm thankful for the gifts I've been given and awareness of knowing the gifts I lack. I'm thankful for having Mrs. Jeff Macke in my life and the two kids she's helped me create. I'm humbled that Mrs. Jeff Macke has followed, indeed prodded me, to run off and join the TV circus - giving me the chance to have 2 jobs I love and a home I love coming back to every night.
Life is, ever and always, a mix of effort and luck. You can call the latter whatever you will ("mojo," "Karma," "kwan," "destiny," etc.) but I think you all know what I'm talking about. Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail. Any hammer worth his claw knows he's not wholly responsible for what he has become. Certain things beyond his control had to happen in order for him to be forged into the beater, rather than the beaten. I don't know a single person over 20 who hasn't spent a fair amount of times on both sides of poundings. The beatings are how you pay for the runs of good mojo. It's the dignity with which we handle both sides of that equation which define who we are.
This column isn't about stock picks, outlooks or snark. This column is about mojo. I've written about it with some restraint, but I was lucky enough to have Ken Macke for my father. He taught me what I know about being a merchant, being a leader and suffering with courage and dignity. The "courage and dignity" lesson was how I paid for the blessing. My dad died of Frontal Lobe Degeneration. Those of you who want to know what that means are invited to hit that link and pause to ponder the implications of a disease which causes "sudden, permanent, change in mood and behavior," erodes motor skills and kills a man over 2 decades.
I look in the mirror and know I did everything I could to ease my dad's way through his pain. The labor, which only ended this month, was what I traded for the blessing of having Ken Macke for a father for the 20 years before he started getting sick and another 7 or 8 years after that, before he got really sick and was still able to be a great friend to me. Ken's trip, mercifully, ended last summer. Many of you sent notes and advice and good wishes of every kind. Of course I'm grateful for those and I've tried to pay them forward to those who are suffering now.
And here's where Karma comes in to play once more. One of the great regrets of my life is that Mrs. Jeff Macke, Anne, never really knew my dad when he was The Man. I could never fully explain to her what it was about him that inspired others - and inspired me to admire Ken to the degree I did. Anne knows I'm not inclined to have "heroes." F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy." My dad in the 80s was my hero and his life played out tragically. I admire plenty of folks, but I'm done having heroes.
I'd accepted that Anne would respect but never really "get" what I missed about my dad. Then, just last week, the strangest thing happened. I got a note from a fellow named Gordon who worked with my dad "back in the day." Gordon does a great job telling the rest of the story, including the deeply unlikely chain of events that got him in touch with me.
Gordon's note, a letter from a stranger who didn't know me from Adam but took the time to tell me about my dad, did more than I ever could to explain to Anne how I could so adore a man she only knew after he'd been beaten down and changed into a much different, far lesser person. After 11 years together, the note helped her know me just a little better.
I'm endlessly thankful for Gordon's note. I'm thankful for the undercurrent of decency which runs through us all and inspired him to write it. Mostly what I'm thankful for are the blessings large and small bestowed upon me. I am humbled by these gifts, I give prayers of thanks every day. On this week of Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a break from the dark humor and snark and trades and just pause a minute to be joyful and grateful at the wonder of it all.
Being Irish, like Gordon, I took my time getting here but my message is one of just 2 words:
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