…one day late, as the lack of air conditioning caused a near-complete computer shutdown at our house.
Anyway: I’m not much of one for Memorial Day’s traditional celebration, in general. I don’t visit graves with flowers, now or at any other time – I fully respect the use this ritual has for many people, but my own memories of people I’ve lost are not helped by visiting a memorial marker. My remembrance is much more day-to-day.
For example, the most recent loved one I’ve lost was my maternal grandfather; a role model to me in more ways than I can easily describe. Grandpa was at least in part responsible for my lackadaisical approach to recipes when cooking, my belief that one should never stop asking questions until one is damned well satisfied with the answers, my distaste for being expected to follow someone else’s rules – and, most relevantly to the general subject matter of this blog, my entrepreneurial spirit.
See, he was self-employed for most of his life. This doesn’t mean he started a business and watched it flourish and grow for 60 years, of course. No, it means he started a business – selling something, or making something – and threw himself into it for a while, and then it folded, leaving him with leftover widgets to stash in the garage and, usually, a New Idea for whatever his next business would be – once, it was even making soap! During my childhood, he opened a neighborhood hardware store, which he ran successfully for ten years and then sold, thinking, I expect, that he would then retire. After all, he was in his 70s at that point. But he got bored just sitting around at home, and drove my grandmother crazy for a few months raising chickens in the yard. After the chickens met their eventual end, he ran for the city council on a whim, driving back to Wichita early from a trip out of town to make it to the office before the deadline to file to be on the ballot – and won!
I don’t possess even half of my grandfather’s determination, and my ability to believe a business into being is still being honed. But Foam on the Range is not my first entrepreneurial endeavor (although it’s most definitely the one I’m most passionate about), and all of the times before, when I’ve sat with my dreams crumbling around my shoulders and then dusted myself off and set about building another one, I’ve done it with my grandfather’s example before me, and his support behind me. He’s been gone now for several years, but every time a business challenge comes up, I swear I can hear his advice on how to deal with it.
I miss you, Grandpa. To the world, you were a city councilman, a local businessman, an active part of the local community, a veteran twice over. To the family, you were the patriarch, in a very real sense – and to me, an example of how to take life and make it into what you want.