A blog about finding God's way on the journey with our children, our family, our jobs and our community.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thinking About You Tonight, Daddy

I remember the day well.  It was a Tuesday afternoon.  My Dad had just called me an hour or so before.  "What are you doing, Little Red Hen?" he asked in his jovial way.  (You see, my Dad never called you by your real name.  If he liked you, he gave you a nickname, and it stuck.  Your whole life you were 'that name' to him.  I was "little red hen."  I suspect it had something to do with the fact that it rhymed with Tracy Lynn.  But no matter - it was special.  Special because he was the only person in the entire universe who called me that name.)  He and I had chatted a while.  He asked me if I would go with him the following day to pick out a paint color for his office we were redecorating.  He also wanted to buy a new leather sofa and wanted to go look at those as well.  He was going to pick me up the next morning at 9:00 a.m.  But things changed in an instant when the phone rang.  .

Back to that phone call.  Words you never want to hear.  "You better get to the hospital right away," she said.  "Your Dad is real bad - they took him by ambulance."  That's all I remember hearing.  My husband had just walked in the door from work.  I grabbed my keys, grabbed my husband, and we were off to the hospital for what seemed to be the longest ride of my life.  The next hour is such a blur to me, painfully hard to write about, much less think about.  Let it suffice to say that my Dad never regained consciousness and they pronounced him dead in less than an hour.

I remember the doctor coming into the waiting room twice.  Both times I asked him - begged him - to let me see my Dad.  Both times that request was denied.  The third time he came back to us he gave us the news.  I was still in shock when he told me my Dad was gone.  It was surreal.  This time the doctor told me I could go see my Dad for "just a moment" and I remember the long walk down the hall, my husband by my side, holding tight to my hand.

When I got to the room, I remember looking in and seeing my Daddy laying on that table, quiet and still.  Very strange because my Dad was one of the most full-of-life, busy people I knew.  And when he was asleep he was snoring - very loudly I might add.  So to see no signs of life was very eery, very strange for me.  I removed my shoes at the door (something told me I was on Holy ground) and I walked inside.  I just stood there, touching his hair and talking to him.  I just touched his face and his hair for about a minute or two until I saw the tears on his face.  They weren't his tears, they were mine.  But they had dropped like tiny raindrops from my eyes onto his face and were running down his cheek.  That's when it hit me.  My Daddy is gone.

Something strange happened at that moment I realized I would never hear 'little red hen' again.  I heard a faint whimpering or moaning sound.  It was coming from me!  I was so numb and so traumatized that I was moaning every time I took a breath.  My husband tells me that it occurred off and on over the next week or so - during the the funeral - at the rotunda - at the veteran's cemetery.  I don't remember much of that. 

What I do remember is the receiving of friends.  My Daddy looked so handsome.  Peaceful.  Almost asleep.  He would have been very pleased with the photos we had around.  Photos of the most important things in the world to him - his kids and his grandkids.  He would have loved what all his friends and family said to console me and my family.  He would have loved the stories they told about crazy things he had done or fun they had throughout the years.  He would have loved the American flag embroidered on his casket.  But more than anything else, he would have gotten a big kick out of the 'nickname bouquet' that proudly stood at attention at his feet.  You see, to pay tribute to my Dad, I had a large bouquet made that had a banner for each of his children and grandchildren with their nickname on it.  Beautifully done in white satin and gold leaf, it was adorned with large streamers, each one representing the nickname that he had given us and called us until the day he went home:

Little Red Hen
Hard Rock
Lisa Bo
Grannie Annie
Snow Bird
Handsome Harry
Austie Bostie
Pixie Pie

Now many years gone, I still long to hear those words again.  "Tracy Lynn, little red hen" he would say.  And my children all cherish those banners so very much.  Each of them has their respective banner - some hanging on their wall, some have them put up for safe keeping.  But each is precious just the same.  A badge of honor.  A reminder of the man so full of life that loved them with every ounce of life he had in him.  Their granddaddy.

Life wasn't always easy with my Dad.  But he was surely the life of the party.  And he is still missed by this old hen more than you will ever know.  I look forward to seeing him again someday.  And I know that when I get to heaven, I will hear those precious words again.  There are many things I anticipate seeing and doing when I get to heaven.  But one of them is hearing "Little Red Hen" from my Dad.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.  I miss you so very, very much.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

"There You Go" is NOT Good Customer Service

While a generation ago you would have heard sentiments like "Thank you for shopping with us" or "Have a great day, ma'am" while checking out at your neighborhood grocery store, has anyone noticed the 'new' catch phrase in customer service is "There you go?" Really?

Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. Prissy little middle-aged lady just being a primadonna. But truly, our country has buried the lost-art of practicing real customer service along with reading a hardback book or having conversation around the dinner table.

Let's be honest. We are raising a generation of people who just don't get it. They don't know how important that job is to their future. They don't understand that in 10 years, if things keep in this downward spiral of accepting poor customer service, we won't have any expectations left at all.

You would think in this time of a slowing economy that retail outlets and service providers would be on high alert for excellence in service. Why? Because every dime that people spend today must be measured in importance. People have an array of choices of where they can spend that precious, calculated money. And, if people do not get excellent customer service, they will go somewhere until they find it. Oh, I wish!

And while I'm up here (on my soapbox, that is) allow me to pontificate about how no one under the age of 20 can count change back without that computerized register telling them how much to give back to the customer. Test this theory; give a $20 to any young person, "buy" something for $12.71 and ask them to count the change back to you. It's nearly impossible to find one who can actually do it correctly without having to start over numerous times if at all.

Retailers of America, wake up and smell the coffee. Let's stop the insanity that is going around today. Making Kroger bigger with more self check-out lanes is NOT good customer service. Start small and less expensive. Just teach an orientation class on practicing the art of good customer service. Start with "Thank you for your business" and "Please come back." My guess is that little step will reap the rewards in customer loyalty much more than shiny new computers and more self-check out registers.

After all, we already have to buy them, unload them at the register, roll them to our car and then put them up when we get home. THANK US properly when we are there spending our hard-earned dollars and it just might make us leave feeling a little better about the 28% hike in the cost of
groceries in the last year alone.