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And so begins this crazy adventure…
‘Our man saw his future drip, drip, dripping down the drain’
The death was unexpected to say the least. Despite the fact that realistically speaking he was aware that one day it would happen, because it’s inevitable, he had still banked on a bit more time.
Time to live his life.
See the world. All that cliche stuff.
And the time to do that other slightly cliche thing of telling his family that becoming the owner, CEO and all around business man wasn’t something that he wanted.
The problem with attempting to bring that up in conversation was that it would lead to the ‘well what do you want then?’ question. And well, he didn’t have an answer to that. He thought he might want to be an artist, or an architect, or a writer, or a lawyer.
Or anything really.
But probably something more on the creative side. Something that didn’t involve knowing what stocks and shares were. Where he wasn’t the most important clog in a big machine. Where he didn’t have to know the ins and outs of a business he never even liked all that much.
So it was never brought up.
He managed to convince his parents that doing an English degree was going to be beneficial to his inevitable running of a business future. They didn’t really buy it, but they knew they had the time to get him on the right track.
But then the death happened. Slap bang in the middle of year 2 of 3.
In the midst of the funeral planning and the conveyor belt of flowers and condolences there was the unloading of contracts and documents, talk of finances and employee/employer responsibilities.
There was a total sudden unloading of information put upon him to deal with in amongst his grief.
Gone was the reassuring pile of books on his desk, replaced with curling white pages hastily stapled together and full of jargon. Gone were the essay questions that he had to ponder before embarking on writing 3,000 words of varying levels of pretension, replaced by contracts and numbers and a whole different kind of pretension. Gone was his biggest concern being making a 9am lecture after a heavy night out and 2 hours sleep.
As he went through the process of mourning the father he had lost, he was presented with a whole different host of problems, both big and small.
The biggest one being that the scope of his future had changed.
There was no longer an open field of possibilities with multiple seeds planted just waiting to be nurtured so that they could beautifully bloom.
There was only one flower.
More of a weed.
Incessant in its growing. Quick too. Sprouting up in all the available space. Twisting up and around. Interlocking with itself and building a wall. Closing off, killing, any other opportunity that might have been available to him.
Sure, he could turn the contracts and the finances, the documents and all the employee responsibilities down, but that would come at a cost.
That cost ultimately being his family name. As dramatic as that sounds. The one thing that everyone around him his entire life has always said is ‘the most important thing’. It holds power and credibility. Tarnishing it would be seen to those with the name as almost as bad as committing some kind of serious crime. You know the ones that involve a life sentence with no possibility of bail.
Handing over a company that has been in the family name for coming up to 7 generations would be the worst thing ever. Even the thought of it instilled horror in the bodies of those who dared let it cross their mind.
And in the long run it would be more detrimental to his future than running a business he had no desire in nor knew anything about.
So he did what was expected of him. The only thing that was acceptable of him in this time of sadness and grief. He read every document that was thrust in his direction. He read page after page of information that he didn’t retain, full of words that might as well have bene written in Italian for all he understood of them. He let his wardrobe fill up with well tailored black, grey and navy suits. He accepted the tie rack that was deposited in his room and let it fill up with ties he didn’t think he would ever have to wear again once he left school.
He adapted. Unhappily so, but he did. He took a small amount of comfort from the look of pride his mother gave him whenever she saw him doing something business-y in the kitchen, or what was once his father’s home office. He tried to ignore the phantom presence of his father that still lingered in the dark corners of the house. The presence that made him reluctant to move anything on the desk he left behind, to organise the bookshelves that lined the walls in a way that would make sense to him because he thought on some level that it it would throw something off balance and cause irreparable damage.
He watched the dark circles under his eyes settle in and become more permanent. A concentrated greyish purple that looked more like bruises the less he slept. He watched his friends post pictures of nights out and themed parties that he was once invited to. That he had once planned outfits for. He watched them living a life that had been taken from him.
But he carried on. He made it through on 4 hours of fitful sleep that he could never catch up on. He let his stress levels rise as the pressure builded and he didn’t know what to do. He accepted that he was always going to live in his father’s shadow because in the grand scheme of things his father had never really gotten his time to shine. His father never reached his peak, that was all on him now. He carried on because ultimately that was the only thing he could do. The only thing he knew how to do.
No, it was’t the future he had planned or even the one he had imagine. But it was the one that he had. And he just had to accept that.
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