Ever have one of those "look back on life" moments? I had one this weekend, and I couldn't have anticipated how it would impact me, or how grateful I'd be for someone special who believed in and invested in me.
I was sitting in the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum watching the Nashville Cats honor Riders In The Sky's accordion player and producer, Joey Miskulin.
As I watched Joey play B3 on “Angel of Harlem” in the legendary Sun Studio (see video below), I was taken back to the tiny village in Northern New Mexico where I grew up.
While a clip from U2"s "Rattle and Hum" video streamed and music filled the auditorium, I recalled being an awkward, scrawny kid working at my Grandpa Miguel’s Texaco station, pumping gas, cleaning windshields, and changing tires and motor oil.
I closed my eyes, and suddenly I was back home. The memory was so vivid. I could feel the sun on my face, dry air in my lungs and could even smell the combination of fresh-cut alfalfa, motor oil, gasoline, and Windex.
I could never have imagined as a 9-year-old, that someday I’d work with the front man for the biggest rock band in history on the launch of a campaign to aid people in Africa, called "DATA," which eventually became "The ONE Campaign." I also could never have imagined getting to represent Riders In The Sky; the legendary Western band made up of four of the most creative and intelligent musicians in the world.
No ... I didn't know what the future held for me at the time. I was consumed with making sure that after my homework was done,
every tool was in its place, and the "air pig" hose was rolled up properly.
Grandpa Miguel ALWAYS checked on things before he closed the store and gas station for the night and, because he was my hero, I didn't let him down by doing things poorly.
I didn't realize that while I was learning to fix a flat tire or change the oil in a 1971 Delta 88, that my work ethic was being formed.
Grandpa Miguel was the first entrepreneur I ever knew, and he approached everything with integrity, honesty, planning (he was
also a year-round farmer), and "always leaving things better than you found them."
As I relived that memory this weekend, I only wished I could tell "Grandpa Mike" just how his life lessons impacted me.
I touched my hand to my heart, pictured his clean-shaven face which would have smelled like "Old Spice" and whispered, "Thank you, Grandpa."