Business Card

posted Jun 9, 2013, 9:26 AM by Tia Karelson   [ updated Jun 9, 2013, 9:27 AM ]
June 9, 2013

What would it mean to you if someone held onto your business card for more than thirty years?

I recently saw a family friend for the first time in decades. This fifty-year old man made a point of sharing that he became an electrical engineer largely due to the influence of my father. He still has my father’s business card. My father conveyed his passion for the field, and took the time to explain to a teen-age boy what engineers do.

A few years ago, I ran into this friend’s brother at a party. He shared the same story. I don’t know that he has a business card, but he opted for engineering, albeit software engineering, because of my father.

These stories resonate with me so much because it’s my dad, but especially because he passed away in 1983 at the age of 59. I had just turned 14. My own memories are cloudy, filled with random tidbits. Daddy was handsome, smart, witty, a tennis player, a skier, a fisherman, a neatnik, and quite stoic. He had high expectations. He got annoyed if my eyes looked up at the ceiling when he asked me a question. Now, I would explain that’s a natural function of the brain. It means a person is thinking. Oh, and daddy was an electrical engineer. He worked at FMC, and rode a bicycle at work because the plant was so large. That was the extent of my knowledge. Daddy is still daddy because he passed away before I could adequately resent him as teen-age girls must resent their fathers. He never turned into dad or father. He always stayed daddy.

When I was in the sixth grade, daddy tried to explain the concept of pi to me, but I wasn’t interested. As I kid, I wanted the quick, easy answer while he tried to explain concept and theory. In high school, once I hit the more difficult math and science courses, I felt his absence acutely not just emotionally but intellectually. I still wanted the quick answer, but now he was not there to provide short or lengthy answers. I took calculus pass/fail to preserve my GPA.   

There are very few people in my life who ever met daddy, so the connections that remain are quite special. I am happy to know that daddy liked being an engineer. He did not have the opportunity to attend college until he was in his thirties. A thing called WWII, and fleeing his homeland of Estonia, got in the way. Once he arrived in the United States, he made a deliberate choice to pursue an education, and was wise enough to understand what he wanted to do. It’s wonderful to know he inspired a few teen-age boys at the point in their lives when they were ready to listen, even if his own daughter didn’t care for his lectures.

If we do things right, we can remain an inspiration long after we’re gone. Who in your life will hang onto your business card for 30 years? Maybe you know. Maybe you haven’t met them yet.