The sign on dad’s office – 249 Arch Street

My father sold his optometary practice back in the early 90’s to a young graduate named Jim Meehan.  Jim actually grew up in the community next to ours. Jim’s father told me it was a huge surprise to him when Jim decided to stay in the area.  My father took Jim on with the understanding that Uge would teach Jim everything he knew and then Jim would eventually buy the practice.  Which he did.  The year is now 2010 and Jim has been successfully running what is his optometery practice for over 18 years. What is so endearing about this is Jim never took down the sign that had my father’s and his name on it.  At first I thought it was a smart marketing move on Jim’s behalf, then as  years go by a little bit of laziness and now 18 years later as my father has passed he definitely needed to  change. 

Through the years I have become friends with Jim and he was always so respectful to my father. Dad always had a key to the office. Dad continued to get his optometric mail there.  Jim welcomed him to come  and examine  his friends eyes and basically allowed my father to stay engaged at any level he wanted …why you ask? I don’t know – I guess out of respect for my father. Maybe it was the integrity of being raised to respect those who respect you.

I went in to see Jim after dad passed because I needed my annual exam with my lasik.  Jim and I were both a bit teary eyed about  the enourmity of it all. I asked Jim if he could do me one last favor. I wanted to give Jim my father’s mug from when he was president of the optometric honor society(1955) to put in a corner of the office so dad’s spirit would always be there.  Jim not knowing what I wanted looked at me with tears in his huge baby blue eyes and very exasperated said Claire – I have been more than gracious with your father through the years I can’t possibly do anything more.  What did you have in mind? And by the way I have to get the sign with his name changed.  He continued very defensively telling me that he should have done it years ago and couldn’t bring himself to do it but  needs to now. I looked at him and said “of course you do”.  Jim then asked me what was the favor I wanted and when I told him about the mug he said no problem.  I think he felt bad because he thought I was wanting something huge when in actuality it was something rather small.

Well here it is 6 months later and I never got the mug down to Jim but something better occured. I went down to his office about 2 months ago to see Kay.  My father hired Kay as his receptionist when she was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Kay is now celebrating working there 52 years.   Jim came back to say hello and I teasingly asked him about the sign.  He said that he spoke to Penny who is the amazing resident artist – unbelievably talented and that she is doing a new sign for him. I looked at Jim and said that in honor of the new sign that I insist on paying for it. The sign for some reason has become hard on everyone because it is an action of finality that dad is gone.  Plus my father would want me to pay for the  new sign as a token of Uge’s appreciation for Jim being so good to him through the years.   Jim said he couldn’t possibly do that but Kay also chimed in and say no he was to let me. Dr. Gould would want that very much.  It felt like the right thing to do combined with  a mix of poetic justice that my father would pay for Jim’s new sign outside of his old  practice.  It was a way for my father to let Jim know – it is ok to move on after all these years of loyalty.  

Deep down I was very fine with Jim putting his new shingle  but a touch sadden that their joint shingle was coming down.  Just part of the life process. Well the date is June 2nd and I go to the office and the new sign is up.  I sat visiting with Kay and Nancy and asked where is the old sign? I wanted to take a picture of for nostalga purposes.  Kay said good question I don’t know.  Penny came and put it up over the holiday weekend you will have to ask Penny.  I called Penny because I had to discuss dad’s memorial stone with her  and asked the question where is the old sign?  She laughed and said it’s still hanging up. Penny had known my father since 1975 and couldn’t bear the thought of taking it down.  So what did Penny do? She drilled the new sign right over top of the old one so dad’s name is technically still on the building. We both laughed and was thrilled that everyone walked away a winner.

Penny next to the new sign with the old one underneath.

The above is my story for now and I will be sticking to it.

Claire

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