My mother's husband Tommy Head died suddenly this past Sunday at the age of 67. His death, the mourning of it, and the concurrent celebration of his life by family and friends were windows of wisdom into a life worth living.
Tommy's wake and funeral were attended by more than 1,500 people on cold, snowy New England days and nights. And this not for a man of any great wealth nor fame but for a man who above all else saw the sun rise brightly in his mood each morning and then shared its lifting rays with all he encountered before the day was done.
This easy glide of Tommy's life made all of our lives, easier. And easy, in life and in business, is highly under-rated.
For the 25 years I knew him, Tommy owned a small business - a real estate appraisal firm in Worcester, Massachusetts. Very many dinners at my mother's table were peppered with talk of the agonies and ecstasies of self-employment. Regulation, taxes, technology disruption, pricing pressure and that gripping feeling common to all entrepreneurs of being prey to forces beyond one's control.
But oh what a gift Tommy's small business was to him!
It gave him a way of life - one that allowed him to raise and educate 4 children. And it gave him the profound self-respect of being able to contribute as an earner, a spender, an employer and a taxpayer to his local and national communities.
And in his daily effort, compounded over 30 years and more, Tommy represented that highest form of American business life - the quiet, hard-working man. A man for whom business and career were not pursued instead of time for love and laughter with family and friends, but in addition to it.
I will remember Tommy as a man who worked hard and took time for the little, shining things - for the winks and the smiles and the moments in between.
For in the end, Tommy had that most profound of wisdoms of knowing that in life, we are measured as much by winning and losing as we are by how we play the game.
R.I.P. Tommy Head.
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