A few days ago (now several years) I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a breakfast of sorts with my (then) nine year old son. Almost two weeks prior, the school sent an invitation home with the students inviting dads to enjoy coffee and donuts with their school children at the school for an hour on a Friday morning. I signed the paper and watched a smile form on my son's face. He was already excited about turning it back in and reserving a space for two at this breakfast. I reminded myself to place a note on my calendar so as not to schedule any work over the morning time slot. Of course being a busy dad who played mister mom in the evenings while my wife worked her 2nd shift job, I forgot.
The two weeks whirled by in a dizzying blur. Business has really boomed these past few weeks, and my primary worry was forgetting a client. Wednesday night prior to the reserved breakfast date, I received an email from a colleague asking if I was available early Friday morning to assist him with a very large property inspection. He was willing to pay me $300 to help him with the small and tedious inspection items. I quickly glanced at my calendar and saw that Friday was open. Nothing pressing on my schedule. I replied to my colleague agreeing to assist him. I informed my wife that night that I would be leaving in the early hours of Friday morning. She replied “but what about the coffee and donuts?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. Obviously I had failed to record my date with my son, and had forgotten the matter altogether. My initial fleeting thought was “well, I’ll just have to make it up to him another day…” But that thought quickly passed as I remembered the important “small” things I had done with my own Dad while growing up. Those memories have stuck with me. They are good memories, and all I have to share of my dad today. I knew this Friday was important for my son. The smile on his face the night I signed his reservation slip told me this. I penned an email back to my colleague telling him that I made a mistake and he would have to perform the inspection without me. He emailed back two words… “No problem”. To me it was a problem, but I was glad he understood.
Friday came and my son was full of excitement as he headed off to school. I wasn’t so cheery. The day before began the early symptoms of the first seasonal cold and by Thursday night, I was feeling the full brunt of it. Friday morning was no better even with the medications I had taken. But I knew I must attend for my son. I was now committed. THIS was important.
I arrived at his school around 9:30am. Other dads were already trailing into the doors. The school is located downtown and there is very little parking. So after a bit of searching and circling, I found a parking space two blocks away. The morning was brisk and overcast, and the wind brought the temperature to near freezing. Not exactly great weather for a full blown cold, but I trudged on. A school assistant escorted a small group of us to the cafeteria where the children were patiently waiting for their dads to arrive. A few sign-in sheets were placed on a desk for the dads to autograph. I quickly scanned the sheets for my son’s class and then his name. Surprisingly, there were only a few names on his sheet. Other sheets had almost the entire class listed, but a few such as his had far less. I knew there were more students in his class than were listed. "Unfortunate", I thought to myself, that the other dad’s couldn’t attend. And I was reminded how I almost missed it as well.
The line of dads stretched out into the hall by now, and I took my place at the end. Another assistant asked who my child was and went to retrieve him. The whole purpose I was there became even more evident when my son walked around the corner beaming from ear to ear. He coyly walked up to me and I patted him on the shoulder, trying not to show too much 'silly' affection in front of his peers. Regardless, he was obviously proud to be standing with his dad just as the other children around me were.
We slowly gained progress toward the table holding the donuts and beverages. I leaned out to see what they had, as I overheard one father proclaiming as he left that it was one of the biggest donuts he had seen in some time! Envisioning a plate sized Carmel coated Persian, my mouth began to water. Instead, I watched as a helper emptied a bag of pre-packaged pastries onto a metal serving tray. My vision quickly dispersed in a cloud of disappointment. I hoped I was adequately hiding this disappointment from my son. I feigned a slight smile as he looked up when the school principal walked by apologizing they had run out already, and these small bite-sized excuses for a snack would have to suffice. I ground my teeth a bit and smiled again at my son. I reminded myself it really wasn’t important what we ate, only that I was there with him for this moment. Still, I couldn’t help but think that my coming here to partake in this schedule interruption, eat a miserable little snack cake, and drink scorched coffee had cost me $300 today. I shook my head and stepped up to the table.
I placed three of the pastries on my plate, two on his; we grabbed our drinks and found a place to sit. There were plenty of seats and I again thought about the other kids in the school whose dads couldn’t make it. I’m sure several of the absentees were upset, but didn’t show it. I also began to wonder if those other children would become jealous or spiteful, letting it be known in their own ways through taunting or perhaps a schoolyard scuffle. Looking back on my own childhood, this was what I had come to realize had occurred in similar circumstances.
I glanced around the cafeteria at the dads who had made it. Some in work clothes, others in casual attire. A few Grandpa's had even come as a substitute. One of the Dads particularly caught my eye. He was wearing his military uniform with his delighted daughter seated by his side. How proud she must be! And how thankful I was that he was actually there with her this day, not wearily deployed to some far off country... or worse. We seated ourselves across from them... and then a transformation occurred! Somehow those small little pastries suddenly tasted like the plate sized donut the departing father had so vividly described. The coffee suddenly became the best Café Mocha I had ever tasted, and I smiled at my son… so proud of him... and truly glad I had followed through with my commitment.
We enjoyed our brief hour together. It went by quickly. We doodled on search words and coloring papers with crayons, and made small talk. I even enjoyed the military father and daughter seated across from us happily engaged in the same activities. I no longer felt miserable with my nagging cold. And for a brief moment, I even forgot the work that waited for me back at my desk.
The hour came to an end. My son walked with me to the exit. I bid him a good day, patted him on the shoulder once more, and reminded him I would see him again in the afternoon. The walk back to my truck was again cold. I turned up my collar and turned my phone back on to resume my day, but sure wish that all the kids and their dads could have enjoyed the experience I just had.
There are moments in time and life that we don’t get back. We only have but one fleeting chance to get it right. I almost lost that moment... but so fortunate I didn’t. For the words my son left me before I returned to my day were now permanently etched in my memories...
“This was the best day ever Dad!"
It was mine too kiddo. It was mine too… and worth every penny.
I am often asked what kind of inspection services I perform in and around Dayton Ohio. As I’m quickly going over the list, I mention new construction inspections. I am usually stopped here by the listener and asked “New construction??? Why would a brand new house need an inspection??? I can’t see where anything would…Read More
Insulation and air infiltration aren’t always to blame for uncomfortable rooms and high energy bills. Furnace and air conditioning systems can be a primary culprit as was the case in this home (image right). A phenomenon known as stratification was occurring where a 10 degree F difference between the floor and ceiling is present. The…Read More
As many of our Dayton area clients combat high energy bills and uncomfortable homes, wall insulation and air sealing is rapidly becoming a popular repair. Many older homes have less insulation than homes built today. Often wall insulation was commonly omitted for many homes in the Dayton area built through the 1950’s and into the…Read More
Recently a colleague of mine lost a commercial bid to perform a rather large infrared study of building envelopes for a multiple building hotel complex. His proposed fee for the task and reporting was in line, if not a tad low of typical industry fees for this type work. The building managers and maintenance department had realized…Read More
A few days ago (now several years) I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a breakfast of sorts with my (then) nine year old son. Almost two weeks prior, the school sent an invitation home with the students inviting dads to enjoy coffee and donuts with their school children at the school for an hour…Read More
I’m not talking about the hurtful betrayal from an otherwise presumed friend.But I am talking about the quick installation method of wiring an electric receptacle that many “production” contractors employ. It’s a method of installing a receptacle quickly and efficiently, and saves contractors time when wiring a home. After all, time is money! Most 15…Read More
How to make a structural masonry home more energy efficient Rarely a week goes by that I don’t receive a phone call from a client who lives in a true masonry constructed home. As with any home, the most common complaints are uncomfortable rooms and high energy bills. Often the owners are simply seeking advice and asking…Read More
I was recently hired by a client who had entered into a contract for purchase of an existing home. I was to perform the whole house inspection for them. As usual, I arrived slightly earlier than my pre-approved scheduled appointment and noticed that the current owner was still home. It’s not common and actually a…Read More
The local electric utility company often refers their customers to me for assistance in determining the reason (or reasons) for their high utility bills. The questions I ask during the initial contact often reveal some important clues which typically revolve around their climate control systems. Overwhelmingly, Dayton area homeowners who contact me disclose that their…Read More