There is a song entitled “The Way We Were” released in 1973 and sung by the incomparable Barbara Streisand. The chart-topping song itself was part of a romantic drama movie of a couple who met briefly at the end of World War II and years later found themselves entangled in a relationship. In the movie, they kept going back in time trying to figure out what happened to their beliefs and values since the first breakup. An experience we all have had when looking at people we see today and what they “were” in the past. Family memories to me are like a bag full of M&M chocolate candies – each candy representing a colorful story, and each candy craving for your appetite to revisit again. There is one memory of my Dad when I knew him in my adolescent years. I label this memory – “Lessons of a Necktie.”
My siblings and I prepared for church every Sunday, and I remember once wearing a ‘clip-on’ tie. A stylish accessory easy to snap on below the collar of my dress shirt. I graduated to a long length fabric tie when I grew older, but didn’t know how to perform a Windsor shaped knot! Imaging having four older brothers living in the same house…someone would come to my rescue you think! They didn’t for me. But my Dad signed on to volunteer. So one day, I went into my parent’s bedroom to ask for help.
Standing face forward to him as he sat at the edge of bed, my Dad would carefully bring the fabric tie around my neck to perform the Windsor tie look; and in proceeding Sundays, he sometimes demonstrated it on his neck. Our faces were evenly locked in height – I could look straight into his eyes and he in mine.
Now you’re saying to yourself…this is a nice memory. But there’s more…
During the construction of perfecting a Windsor tie, my father would raise certain questions.
“Jerry Jr. – what do you think is more important, pursing the chance to win the lottery, or seeking a professional work career?”
“Jerry Jr. – would you rather have a friend to often cry on their shoulder or a friend who didn’t care?”
There were no right or wrong answer…he wanted to hear my response.
All the while each Sunday, I’m studying the steps of tying a knot and responding to questions raised by my Dad – isn’t it interesting how a young brain could do multiple things. It would take several efforts – the urging to run into my parent’s bedroom every Sunday morning and stand tall and straight in front of him. It was like going to Sunday School with Him.
Over a period of time there came ONE Sunday where I was able to complete a Windsor tie without his volunteering. That was the short-term lesson. However, the long-term lesson reverberates in my head. Those memorable questions helped shape me to become the person that I am today – an absolutist. Another profound question I’ll never forget:
“Jerry Jr. – what is more important; Family or Money?”
My Dad passed away last December at the well-seasoned age of 88 – just shy of his 89th birthday one day later.
On the day of his funeral service, I wore a beautiful “Windsor knotted” fabric tie. Because I’m his ‘name-sake’ (a junior) – I wanted to ensure he wore the same exact tie while laying inside the casket.