On Oct 31st, 2008 my father took his own life.
I remember the day clearly because I was called out of teaching a class and told to go straight home. My daughter Emily had just been born on Oct 14th so I was naturally concerned that something had happened to her. I remember walking through the front door of my house and my mother (who was visiting because of Emily’s birth) was there along with my wife. They told me the news and I went instantly into shock. This was so sudden as I had just spoken with him a couple of weeks ago when Emily was born.
Make no mistake, my father was a brilliant man. He was full of good humor and ideas. He did have his issues and our relationship wasn’t great occasionally. However, he was a great father and had supported me through a great deal and provided many opportunities for me.
One of the opportunities that he gave me wasn’t something that I recognized until a few months ago. I graduated Boston University in May of 1997. Both he and my mother were present at my graduation. I remember looking up at both of them when I received my diploma. I was proud of both of them for being there together looking down on me given that that had separated my final year of high school.
I remember talking to him that I had hopes and dreams of being a coach or personal trainer because I was very much into fitness, conditioning, and rowing. As our conversation progressed, he started to draw out on a piece of paper an idea for a diagnostic that I could develop to help me develop a stronger relationship with my clients or athletes. The diagnostic would help me understand what made the person that I could be potentially coaching “tick”.
I spent the summer after graduation continuing to develop the diagnostic by borrowing some time on my roommate’s computer. I created word files and graphics to help develop the diagnostic. That was twenty years ago and I didn’t do think much about it until late last year.
To cut a long story short, I found the files on my computer a few months ago. I thought that I had lost them. This project had been lurking in the back of my mind for the last 20 years. I set about creating the online version of the tool. I managed to get it to a point where the framework was working and showed it to a friend and colleague Jake Crandall who is the owner of Okie CrossFit and Tulsa Opex. He was very enthusiastic about what he saw and encouraged me to press on with developing the diagnostic. It was the encouragement that I needed to start this journey.
I spent the last five months continuing to develop the diagnostic and I’m pleased to say that I have a working version that is in beta testing currently. It has been a great journey creating this tool that will ultimately help people live and lead better lives. I will provide more detail about the diagnostic in a later blog post.
I wish that my father could still be around to see what it has become. My sense is that the journey is just beginning and could lead to some exciting possibilities. One of the things that my father taught me is that when you do some work, 10% always goes to the house. To that end, I am going to donate 10% of any profits to the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma. It should be noted that the diagnostic is for a person’s approach to fitness and life and not in any shape or form an alternative for qualified medical assistance. Some of the other funds will go to my daughter’s college fund.
My father never got to know my daughter. I think of this diagnostic as one of his parting gifts to her. I know he would have been a great grandfather.
It has been an emotional journey and at certain points of the development of the diagnostic, some of the grief associated with the loss of my father has resurfaced. With that said, I can feel his spirit around my family every day. I know that he would be proud of what I have accomplished. I also know that there are other things about me that he would be proud of as well.
My father was a brilliant man and as each day goes by in my life I have learned to appreciate his legacy on a far deeper level.
In conclusion, if your parents are still alive and they have worked hard to help you become the person you are today, give them a call. or better yet, go see them and thank them for all of their care and support. Trust me, you won’t regret it one bit.