There are few days that pass without thoughts or memories of my father who entered heaven on July 27, 2011; two short months after I married the woman that one year earlier, I believed did not exist. I always knew my Dad was a great man…true to God, family and friends. Today, a gentleman named Frank Callahan, reminded me how great of a man he truly was.
A little over a year ago Frank joined the company that I work for [800 plus employees at the site], noticed my name in an email and took the time to reach out to ask if I was I was Leroy Dickey Jr. Puzzled, I answered, “No, that was my father.” The response I received is one I will never forget.
“I worked at St. Gobain with your dad and BASF prior to that. I am so sorry for your loss, I did not know.”
Forcing back the tears, I assured him that I understood he was not aware. In the few short months prior to Franks transfer to another location within the company, he and I talked about my father, Leroy Jr., a few times and it became obvious that he had touched Frank’s life as much as many others who had come to know him.
Throughout my life, countless people told me what a great man my father was. Being an incredulous child, I shrugged the sentiments off as unpretentious words, spoken to make me feel good. As I grew in age, I came to appreciate my father for the selfless man that he was…not truly understanding the magnitude of his graciousness until today when it struck me that, one does not simply recall the name of a colleague from 20 years ago, without that person having made a lasting impression upon them.
This afternoon, as I sat at my desk overwhelmed with by the multitude of tasks that I needed to somehow complete on time, I received an instant message from Frank, telling me that he had found a photo of my dad that he would like to share with me. Let me remind you that this is a man that I have conversed with for less than an hour, more than a year ago. More unpretentious words, right? Not for a second, Frank woke me up today.
What would have appeared as a grainy, black and white scanned copy of a Polaroid photograph, grabbed Frank’s attention so much that his memory of the man standing in the photo made him think of me. The insignificant guy that he has seen on less than a handful of occasions for less than 60 minutes of trivial conversation. In my mind, there are only two explanations; each dependent on the other. First, my father was truly an extraordinary man that touch the lives of people that he came to know. Second, Frank is also an amazing, selfless man that considers others as important, if not more, than himself.
I cannot possibly combine enough words, however eloquent, to express my gratitude to Frank. With tears welling in my eyes, I can only say, “Thank you for sharing this simple, yet life changing photo.”