(Posing at photo shoot with our Marketing Director – Vilona Michael)

To this day I’m not sure who wanted it more, you or me. But I’d be willing to bet $5,000 and a Rolex watch it was me.  All I know is that I wanted it bad.  Really, really bad.  

The Legend Award.  

It was the highest award your company gave out.  They awarded it every year at the annual Management Conference to the highest achiever in several categories and you were up for it in 1989. We were only 26.  If you won, you’d be the youngest recipient in the history of the company.  The prize was $5000 and an engraved Rolex watch.  The money would be life-changing for us, for sure, but it was the glory I was after.  I desperately sought that recognition of your hard work, talent and sacrifice.

And, trust me, I know how that sounds…I was the stereotypical 1980s wife…living vicariously through her husband’s success. But alas, that’s another article for another day.

I remember how I couldn’t even enjoy the day of the banquet.  I was beyond nervous.  Someone had chartered a boat.  Everyone was waterskiing – one of my favorite activities.   Never matter, I couldn’t ski anyway, as I was large with child.  It was August and our second daughter was due in September.  The day felt extraordinarily long and insufferable.   

Eventually, the moment arrived.  The CEO gave a speech about the winner, but didn’t say your name until the end.  It was suspenseful to say the least.  And I would go on to recite his words hundreds of times in the years that followed…Mostly to an enraptured audience of 5.  Our children.  It was the mom version of a Ted-talk.

“This man isn’t glitzy.  He doesn’t blind you with his flash and dash.  He’s all substance and honor, a man of his word…”

The minute I heard this description, I knew you’d won.  Who else could they be describing?  It had to be you!  

Later that evening, back in our hotel room, as you stashed the cash in the room’s safe and slid that amazing piece of hardware on your wrist, I recall you weren’t happy.  Not at all.  Which was weird.  I’d never seen you unhappy around so much money.  But to be fair, I’d never seen you around so much money.  When I inquired after your sullen mood, that in no way matched my euphoria, you indicated panic.  You told me there was pressure on you now.   Everyone would be expecting so much from a “Legend!”   

I was shocked by this revelation.  I couldn’t really wrap my head around it.  You were worried about delivering?   You always delivered!   That’s why you received this award in the first place! I remember trying to reason you out of your surliness, after all you were “harshing my vibe.”  I gave you one of my renowned pep talks, but you couldn’t shake it off that easily.

There was time for all of this later I reasoned. All anyone expected right now was for you to go downstairs to the lavish hotel bar and celebrate by letting them buy you a drink or three.

That seemed to do the trick, but you were a complicated man, that’s for sure.  

Nonetheless, you managed to work through your angst and went on to build a successful career off of that award and your status as a legend.  Your reputation preceded you everywhere we went until the day you died.   And, honestly, it still does.  Although, I suppose these days it’s called a legacy. 

Yesterday, the kids and I participated in a photoshoot at a restaurant your company opened and named after you.  It was fun and obviously an honor.  The email said there would be emphasis on our hands and wrists, as we would be photographed holding cocktails – so the guys should wear watches and the ladies bracelets and rings.   At the last minute, I grabbed your Rolex for Tommy, as today’s younger generation typically uses their cell phones as their preferred timepiece.  

I choked up as I fastened it on his wrist.   We both laughed a little at how big you must’ve been, because the watch was huge on him and he’s not a small guy in his own right.

About halfway through the shoot, Tommy took the watch off and gave it to me because it kept sliding off his wrist.  Unfortunately, I had nowhere to put it, so I set it on the seat beside me and then accidentally left it at the restaurant.  

Yes, what I’m trying to say is that I lost your stinkin’ Legend Rolex watch.  

This isn’t the first time it’s been lost.   But I’m very worried it might be the last time.  It went missing once in the 90s and we kept interrogating 3 year old James, “Do you have Daddy’s watch?” I’m not sure why we were so convinced he had it, but both of the little boys were enamored with your watch.  I think they associated it with you because you wore it every day.  Eventually James got all excited and ran across the room and pulled it out of the bottom of the toy box, holding it high up in the air, shouting enthusiastically,

“Yeah it is!”

Yeah…there it was!  Somewhere we never thought to look.  Yeah…it sure was.  

I was so relieved we found the watch that day.  But since I left it in a public place this time, I fear it may be gone forever.   I’m not sure which son I would’ve given it to anyway.   Still…I’m so very heartbroken over losing it.  One more little piece of you gone forever.   I have to keep reminding myself that watch wasn’t actually you.  It was really just a thing.  I still have everything you left on this earth that actually matters.   

One of your favorite things to say was, “Protect The Brand!” You said it constantly and I’m not really sure we all really knew what you meant back then, but I do believe we are starting to get it nowadays.

Your watch might be gone forever, but I do believe “The Brand” and your legacy are secure. It’s times like this I’m reminded to be grateful for the parts of you no one can ever take from us.