As most know, my Dad passed away suddenly last week. I thought it only fitting that I start this blog with the message I gave at his service.
The Hand Shake
Growing up Dad taught me how to shake hands with people. By the time I was 12 I think I shook more hands than most people will shake in a lifetime. I’m sure for the first 1000 or 2000 times I was the kid who put my head down in embarrassment and shook the hand. In time though through an unending stream of people I learned to look a person in the eye when I shook their hand. I didn’t understand at age 12 what that meant. I’m not really sure when it hit me but I know now that everyone in this room other than a few family members started their relationship with my Dad with a simple hand shake. There wasn’t anything simple about that handshake though. When you first met him maybe you didn’t even realize it. That Hand Shake meant the world to him. It was his word to do his best for you. It was everything to him.
In the late 60’s Dad and the family were sent by Caterpillar Tractor Company to Brasil. They asked him to build the distribution of CAT products in Latin America. So he got in his VW Bug and started driving. Stopping to shake hands and build relationships at every Cat Dealer in Brasil, Argentina, Venezuela and more. He didn’t speak their language yet, and didn’t really know their business yet but he new he could give them his best. I’m proud to say when you travel through Latin America today and look at Construction sights you see CAT Tractors.
When my wife Mary was a fairly new teacher in the Barrio of San Diego, she asked Dad to come talk to her class. He brought his clubs and all his swing perfection gadgets, his handshake and got these kids moving. He had Miss Jewell doing the Hoola Hoop thing in front her 8th graders. That was the clincher on the relationship with them. His message was simple, find something you really have a passion for and then give it your best. Good things will come. For months after that session the kids were regularly asking when Mr. Jewell was coming back.
As most of you know we spent a couple years in Germany. Dad came to visit about a year after we moved there. This was pre joint replacement surgery. Tired, stiff and obviously jet lagged he new our son Marco was super excited to share his new language. For 6 hours they sat on the floor and played Monopoly in German. This morning Marco told me that Papi taught him how to shake hands.
25+ years ago my Dad asked me to shake the hand of Cathy Mundy. I’m sure their relationship started with a handshake. That one handshake changed the lives of so many. Virtually everyone in this room is a product of that bond. 6 marriages still going strong. 12 grand children who have a unique relationship with Ani and Papi. I know for sure as I that my life, and my relationship with my Dad grew to what it is today because of that one hand shake.
The hand shake is a simple gesture but not quite so simple when it was followed up with
“I’m Bob Jewell”