Thank You John

Eulogy for my father-in-law, John Michael Urbanic, October, 2005

Throughout our lives, many people will touch us in many ways. Those who touch us most deeply are those closest to us and those who teach us.

Of all that John Urbanic was, a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a fiance, a man; John was a great teacher - always willing, sometimes too willing, to teach us how to do something he knew or knew how to do.

Even when he had never done something before, John had the strength, courage, perseverance and intellect to find a way to make it work or fix the problem.

Yet like all people who give to us, who are close to us, who teach us, we sometimes have difficulty expressing our gratitude for receiving his gifts.

I know I did.

For how should you show appreciation to someone who teaches you to ride a bike or ice skate? Someone who shows you how to throw a ball or teaches you to whistle?

How do you thank the man who taught you to count to 100, built you a dollhouse, a play kitchen, or showed you how to change the brakes on your car?

How should we express gratitude to someone who read us bedtime stories or held us tight when we were hurt or scared? Who spun us around until we were dizzy and never seemed to tire?

What's the proper way to thank someone who stayed up all night with your babies, treated you like a son and gave you his daughter?

It took me 20 years before I understood what to say to express my gratitude. And 3 months ago I finally said it:

"I love you Mr. Urbanic."

And now, each of us, with our own names for him, can thank John:

"I love you Uncle John."

"I love you Daddy."

"I love you Dad."

"I love you Pap-Pap."

"I love you John."

"I love you Johnny."

...and thanks.

This Too Shall Pass

Letter to PLS employees, August 14, 2009

Just last week my family celebrated the sixth birthday of our twin sons. I can still recall the first months after their birth when my wife and I were barely getting two consecutive hours of sleep a night. We could never seem to get the two newborns to eat or sleep at the same time and our mental and emotional states were suffering due to sleep deprivation. It seemed like there would be no end to our misery when I was reminded of the following story.

The story goes that King Solomon gave his minister the task to invent a phrase that would be true and appropriate in all times and situations. Furthermore, if a happy man read it, he would become sad and if a sad man read it, he would become happy. Finally, after days of deep thought and anxiety, the minister presented King Solomon with the phrase: "This too shall pass."

As I reflect back after six years, I realize that no truer words were written. The sleep finally returned and my wife and I have two healthy, happy twin sons who sleep through the night, as do their siblings.

Likewise, no truer words were written regarding the current business climate.

A year ago, PLS was enjoying record revenues; we were hiring rapidly to grow the company and the future looked very promising. Nothing could stop our growth and increasing revenue. But something did. During the last months of 2008 and into 2009, monthly revenue dropped by as much as 40% and we, as an organization, were forced to make very difficult decisions to insure the long-term viability of PLS. No part of the organization was untouched. Again, the phrase "This too shall pass" comes to mind.

While we strain to see improvements to the current business climate and the days when we are once again generating record revenue, we must not "let pass" the lessons we've learned over the last year. We need to continue the discipline we've learned with making sage choices in hiring and expenditures that will adhere to PLS' business model. We need to monitor our transportation costs closely and the related margins. Most importantly, we need to grow and diversify our business so that when the next economic downturn occurs, we don't see the impact we have during this episode.

While my sleep patterns have improved over the last six years, my older children are now entering their teens. Their attitudes are changing and they are formulating a world-view and lifestyles that are often foreign to their parents. I realize that I'm due for some changes in my sleep patterns over the coming years, as well. What provides me some peace is the realization that no phase of life or the business cycle remains constant, but ideally, we learn resiliency from these periods. The bad economic climates ultimately recover to become good economic climates and as for my current period of restful sleep, "this too shall pass."

Glen's Eulogy for Dad

Dad was a complicated person. As I sat at his bedside a few weeks ago I realized just how complex he could be. He was highly practical and very mechanically inclined, something that did not stop his appreciation for art and his occasional efforts with pastels. I wonder where that drawing of Dawg went...

As I changed a vent valve on my car yesterday, I had to thank the spirits for the small piece of mechanical aptitude that I may have gained from Dad.

Much of my memories were train of thought over the past few weeks that I have included here. I will preface them by saying that these are the best of memories. I had my difficulties with Dad, but I choose today to celebrate the positive.

Saturday night, at a house concert I requested Les to sing "You Are My Sunshine". That song touches me as no other. Early memories of my father.

Other memories include:

  • His love of Nature
  • Bensons Wild Animal Farm
  • Our pet tortoise
  • Dad as Storyteller (I read some Jack London to him in the Hospital)
  • Dawg
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Being taught that it is OK for a man to cry
  • Peanut Butter and mustard sandwiches at the Cape
  • MOPAR Products
  • The Sunbeam Alpine
  • Roger Miller songs on the turntable
  • Shakeys Pizza and the Player Piano
  • Our trip to Canada
  • The Old Man of the Mountain
  • Biddeford Pool
  • Camp

And I am left with Caine, a dog that is very much like Dad, in many ways

One of the authors Dad introduced me to was Henry David Thoreau, and I close with this from him:

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler, solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness, weakness."

Best Wishes in your travels Dad.

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