Curtiss Place (Maplewood, N.J.)
I was on a project for American Express when I received the telephone call from my mother that my father died while playing tennis. He was only 58-years old, had just retired, and I was newly engaged.
I remember screaming when I heard the news, hung up the phone and ran into the ladies' room hysterically crying. An older woman washing her hands asked, "Are you okay, dear?"
I said, "Yes, I'm fine."
Why did I do that? I was so NOT fine. I will always regret that I didn't tell this concerned stranger that I had just learned that my father died and let her comfort me.
I am forever grateful to my incredible colleagues who got me from Washington, D.C. to La Guardia within the hour on that very bleak February day.
I am eternally grateful to my father for instilling in me a love for music, family and the sea. He had a wickedly sharp sense of humor, loved my mother, and was a devoted, hard-working man who learned young, after losing his mother when he was 8-years old, that family reigns supreme. "If there is no peace in a family, there can never be peace in the world."
My father was a gentleman. He would have been utterly in love with his grandchildren had he had the great fortune to be alive when they were born.
One of the lessons I would like to pass on is this: If you are in need of comfort and someone offers to comfort you, do not be stoic. You will regret that you did not accept the care and love that they wanted to offer in a time of dire need.