Back when I was still working for corporate America, I was asked to take a Marketing Directors position. I’d work from an office near my home or from home. However, my whole development and management team was located in Colorado Springs, CO and there would be a lot of travel to that specific city. Well it just so happens that I’m originally from Colorado Springs. So I mentioned that summer was coming up and I’d be more than willing to spend my first three months working with my team in Colorado. All I needed would be an executive apartment and a car. Everyone loved the idea. James was 10 years old so day camp would be easy. Jim’s mother and father lived in the city and would love to see their grandson for the summer. Secretly Jim loves being home alone, so everyone was happy.
Stop worrying, this story doesn’t have a downward turn. It was great to be with my team everyday it enabled me/us to be so much more connected in all future work. I was part of a group that had a healthy percentage of women. In most of my former positions I was usually the only women. My first brush with my female colleagues was a phone call on Sunday night letting me know to bring broken-in walking shoes, shorts, and a tee shirt. I dropped James off at camp and was in at work at 8:00. 9:30 Laura (not me the other Laura in the group) came by my office and told me it was time to suit up. Hey, it’s only 9:30, yeah we need to get our miles in before 11:00 when thunder storms roll over the mountains. Our plant and offices were located well outside the city in the foothills. Holy cow!!! I had no idea, there were about ten us and we started out at a staggering speed, down into gullies, up washed out sandstone crevices, over and over again. I had been at sea level just one day ago and now I’m hauling my butt all over mountains at 6,000 feet. I wasn’t up to it, but I did it and each day I did better. By about the middle of summer I could actually talk and walk at the same time. And yes, the rain started at about 11:00/30 everyday.
James was having a great time at camp, his group would go to a different location every day. Only time he had a mishap is when, due to HIS aversion to sun block, he ended up with painful “Steven Tyler” lips. Lesson learned, he applied it every day thereafter. He also overcame his fear of thunder and lightening. The lightening in Colorado hits the ground and shakes the earth under you feet! Awesome experience, you can see why you don’t want to be out in the middle of it, like some lightening rod. The storms would always be gone by 2:00 or 3:00, the sun would come out, everything would dry out and it was beautiful; everyday!
Jim’s father was the real surprise. Since we lived in Boston and were so far away from family James didn’t know his grandparents very well, if at all. One day I get a call from (Jim the Grandfather) to ask if he could pick James up from camp. My reply was, “certainly Dad but I don’t want to cause you inconvenience.” As a result I lost my son the remainder of the summer. Dad would pick James up everyday thereafter. They would go play golf, shoot skeets, swim in the pool at the Colorado Springs Country club. James would be given the run of the club and stop by once and awhile to see how Grandpa was doing during his Gin games. However, their best time was their weekly visits to the Farmers Market. Dad would pick James up from camp and visit the market. They would pick up all kinds of goodies and then return home to make delicious dinners. James’ grandfather’s father had a gentlemen’s farm, with cows, chickens, and anything else that would grow in South Carolina. It came to a point that Jim (Grandpa) evolved to keeping James for dinner every night. I got to the point that I’d eat a sandwich and drink a glass of wine. One night Jim (Grandpa) called to say in his very fine and enchanting South Carolina drawl, that James “Had eaten like a pig, eating two whole pork chops!” They, of course, had collards!!
I believe James (James Robert Kirkley, IV) had the best summer with Jim (James Robert Kirkley, Jr.) These relationships cannot be forced or manufactured, they are organic and grow out of the love of a loving nurturing individual. Our son James is the beneficiary of such a man and in turn has grown into a fine person, someone this Grandfather would be very proud of.