Father of the Century

This year instead of a communication tip e-mail, I decided to send my dad’s poem out to my list.  The responses and stories I am getting back are incredible.  37 so far – humans writing to me about what matters in their life.  Thanks dad, although you passed 4 years ago – you still have impact.   The poem, as I posted last year, is below with a little context at the end.

Happy holidays.

 

Christmas 1973     a poem by my dad

December 2008

Christmas this year
Should cost at least
A thousand dollars.

It should be
In the Ideal Bar & Grill
On 163rd and St. Nicholas
Waiting for the first
Tattered little boy
To come in selling
Tomorrow’s morning papers
Roughing up his hair,
Giving all his papers away
And giving him
A hundred dollar bill.

It should be
Walking through the
Bowery,
Finding the drunk
Shivering in the dark doorway
And giving him,
Instead of a religious tract
Or lecture,
A hundred dollar bill.

It should be walking,
Down Beale Street,
Stopping the first
Poor black child,
Giving him a smile
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be
In Albuquerque.
Not a donation to a fund,
But taking the time to find
The sad-eyed Chicano child,
Taking him to a toy store
And letting him run riot.
Picking up the tab, the
toys and him and
To take them to
Wherever or to whatever
His home may be,

And leaving him the change
Of a hundred dollar bill.

It should be in San Diego
Out on the wharf,
With the old fisherman
Who mends nets
Because the tuna
Don’t run for him anymore.
A “Vaya con Dios”
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be
In a Santa Monica Bar,
Smiling at the tired barmaid
Who came to the coast
To be a star
And only found reality,
Giving her conversation,
Respect,
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be in
A Nob Hill restaurant.
Giving the maitre d’
A smile. And the busboy,
Who no one has noticed
All year,
A hundred dollar bill.

It should be
With a little old lady
In San Francisco’s Mission
Street
Selling flowers, Late at night
In the Tenderloin
Taking all her
Wilted posies,
Giving her a kiss
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be
In Seattle’s skid row
Down near the Totem Pole
In Pioneer Square,

Giving the startled
Indian panhandler
A measure of returned pride
And a handshake
And a hundred dollar bill.

It should be the last saved
For the thief
Anywhere,
Who needs it worse
Than anyone,
Not just the money
But the need to
Be superior to someone.
Let him steal from me
A hundred dollar bill.

But most of all…
To have any value at all,
Let Christmas Day find me
Broke,
With empty pockets
Hanging inside out,
Still
In
Love
With
Man.

By Robert H. Harbridge, 1973

 

 

Note: This poem was written in 1973 (in case you worried about it not using the right PC language).  The writer,
my dad, had lost his son the year before writing this poem and had just been diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease.
And still he could see what matters most.

We hope you are holding onto your happiness and faith no matter what is happening around you.
Look around–there’s extraordinary people in this world… you.  Happy Holidays.

 

 

Christina Harbridge

& the Allegory team
Allegory, Inc.

 

 

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Central Park Jogger

Last month at Axis in San Jose, Trisha Meili spoke to a group of entrepreneurs. I’m not sure if you know the name

http://www.centralparkjogger.com/

What an incredible story of the greatness of human beings. Yes, she was brutally attacked and left for dead. And the outpouring of support she received from strangers is mostly what she talks about.

The Marathon runner who months after her attack wrote her and told her he was going to run the New York Marathon in her honor. He won and sent her his medal. She held it last night as she talked about him. Someone she didn’t know who trained for months and gave her the spoils. One runner to another – his card said something about the medal for her as she finishes the marathon she is on. (She was in the hospital 5 months)

She talks about Solomon Brothers, the stock market firm she worked for, set up a working cubicle for her in the treatment center and put up a sign, “Solomon Brothers, Connecticut branch” to make sure she knew she was part of the team always. She had a stockmarket reader and everything.

Her message is perfect for this economy: Think about what you can do- what you are able to do, live in the present moment always and (in my words) believe in something – anything.   Each tiny moment that gives a glimmer of hope and humanity.

Free at Last

January 20, 2009

Every morning my son and I listen to Martin Luther King. We listen to the “Free at Last” speech.. or the “Forgive your Enemies” or the “End Vietnam” It is from a CD called King for Kids. He loves it. It reminds me of a great man.

We got this idea tonight. On January 20, 2009 – will be a special day. For a lot of people. It is the last day of a presidency and the first day of another.

I marinated on the words from King’s speech:

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

I have not liked our current president or his policies. Please understand I work on both sides of the aisle – I believe in Republicans and Democrats. (Of course, I am a Democrat) I believe in America.  All of America.
I am not pleased with the guy residing on Pennsylvania Avenue the past 7 years and 230ish days. Hate me because i have an opinion.

I’d like to send a blast out to Americans across this great nation of ours. Whatever candidate you are backing for president, it is cause for celebration. Whatever candidate you are backing for president : An Obama president means we as a nation crossed a threshold. It means everything we have etched in stone, all that we hold true, is, well, true. (How many commas can one actually put in a sentence I ask all the grammarians out there.)

So – my internet friends. Midnight 00:00 January 20, 2009 – won’t you yell outside your window..or gather in our county’s gathering place… and YELL with LOVE and Passion:
“FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE ARE FREE AT LAST.”

( a little like Network.. with a little more passion and LOVE of what is right in America. I love this country and the people in it. )

In case you don’t know the Network reference..:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90ELleCQvew&feature=related

at about 4:04 it gets fun.

Maybe we can say it a few times… for effect… then pop the champagne corks and celebrate the next four years.

Go America! Pass it on!

“I just need someone to be nice to me”

May 29, 2008. A red eye to Boston. I’m in the middle of a tough time. Things aren’t going as well as I hope. I’m in my head and there is some scary music going on in there…like jaws or something.
I am teaching at 11am the next morning. I fly all night.. arrive in the AM.. shower and teach a class. I sit down in my warm and cozy business class seat and order a glass of Merlot. (A girl has gotta sleep you know.)

THe attendant let’s me know they only have Cab and proceeds to take great care of me that night… as I doze off.

I teach my class. It is amazing. One gentleman in the class really goes all out and changes my perspective. It was groovy.

I race to the airport to take the night flight back home. I had a couple of exchanges with some people that were not nice – I remember thinking in my head as I got on the plane, I just need someone to be nice to me. The scary music was there again. I was feeling a wee bit pathetic and alone.
As I board the plane I see the same flight attendant from the night before – this time I am in coach. I say hello. We laugh about no sleep etc.

The fight has just taken off – the flight attendant from first class sneaks over to me in coach, Shari, and hands me a glass of “Merlot honey, we have it tonight” and sneaks her way back up to her cabin. I just can’t believe it. How freaking sweet is that. I say thank you in such a lame way as I am so shocked.

I’m thinking about it . Wow. First, how did she remember me. Second, how did she remember the wine I wanted. and Third, I can’t believe she snuck back into coach to give me a glass of wine before all the serving happened. So incredibly sweet.

I write her a note and ask my flight attendant to give it to her. Shari came back and we teared up as we told each other about our lives and doing good work. It was beautiful.

Julie, the flight attendant in my cabin, comes by later to give me a split of special french wine they have. It is delicious. She tells me I deserve it and she will do whatever she can to make my flight great. I spend some time laughing with the women on the plane serving our drinks on how much they are spoiling me.. giving me that bottle like that.

It really was sweet. We never know when the next person we run across is going to simply make our day. We just never do.

It is kind of like that video above…. we just don’t know.
Thank you Shari and Julie. You were there for me when I really need a pat on the head. 🙂

What am I.. a magnet for great customer service?

My beautiful niece Tara is getting married february 14 to Rickie… a young man I love and enjoy so much. Tara has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. Trying on wedding dresses is critical to the entire wedding experience. We are super excited about it and with my broken wrist we are a little worried about how much i can actually lift her.

Lisa at Bella Donna Bride Shop in Sacramento is a goddess.

We arrive: me, my two year old, Tara’s aid Angel and Ricky and his seeing eye dog. The red carpet doesn’t adequately define the day we had. .

Lisa and her crew rocked it.  We found the PERFECT dress.  We laughed as Sebastian (2 year old) peeked in every curtain.  Tara looked stunning.  Lisa asked so many questions – not shying away from any issue as she considered Tara having the perfect wedding day in her wheelchair.  What I mean is – Lisa didn’t ignore the physical stuff- she asked tons of questions.   It was awesome.

We went next door to the Terrace Restaurant.  5 star treatment again.  special table.  Everyone asking questions.

I wanted to toast to the happy couple. Asked if they had non-alcoholic bubbly – they didn’t.  I went to the bathroom with my son.  I overheard the woman responsible for watering the tables telling her manager she would run to the store and get sparking cider.. asking if she could please do it.  Please.

We toasted to the day.  You know what is cool?  They didn’t tell us they went to the store.  They didn’t charge us for it.  They just brought it to the table in a silver bucket.  Made a big deal.  Even gave the two year old a champagne flute.

What a special day.