I am writing this very long overdue message to you about your Dad, partly because I didn’t exactly know how to do it, and partly because you’ve probably had so many messages and thoughts to process last year.
I knew your Dad for about 13 years. He was originally my boss, when he lived and worked for Business Objects. He was in Singapore and I was in Tokyo, Japan. Do you know where those places are? Maybe your mom can show you on a map. We ran the ‘partner business’ at the company, talking to people, building a business, making friends and colleagues, having fun, and always trying to look at the good side of life. He helped me learn about doing work well, and with an enthusiasm that would carry forward into other parts of my life. He was never short on good career advice and steadfast support, nor short on time for a team-building and morale-boosting dinner. (and drink session) Never before and not yet since, have I had a better boss or person I wanted to work with again. Someday you will know what it’s like to want to work for someone, just because of who that person is – it is a rare gem indeed when you have that opportunity in your career. Think of it like playing with your best friend – you always want to be on the same team when you play sports, right?
After we worked together for about a year and half, we remained friends. Although we were separated by a few oceans and continents, we did stay in touch, and whenever his travels took him to where I was, he always made time to meet. Same for me – I remember a few years before you were born, I was able to make a trip to London and I visited your Mom and Dad. I remember him taking me for a ‘ride’ in his super-cool sports car in the middle of the city – I thought, ‘how can someone drive like this through Notting Hill? Doesn’t everyone just walk or take a cab or the tube?’. Not your Dad – he did like to get around in style.
Chris was the reason I met my wife, Mimi. It was my birthday, March 2005, and Chris was visiting our Tokyo office, where I was based. He chose the place to go and we bumped into one of my friends who happened to be there. That friend introduced me to his friend, who later became my wife. You Dad was always the ‘social hub’. He joined my wedding in 2006 in my hometown of Vancouver, Canada (your Mom can show you where that is too!). When we asked those in the room who had traveled the farthest, you Dad came out the winner. Our only true ‘Brit’ attendee in a truly Canadian wedding party – a very diverse and colorful group. Chris and my best friend from Kindergarten were the last ones standing at the end the party. He even danced with my now sister-in-law – she said she was lucky to dance with the guy from farthest away.
Over the years, we talked about our careers, our marriages, and eventually being Dads. My son, Justin, was born only a few months after you. He is now 5 1/2 years old. Your Dad and I would talk via Skype occasionally, especially after you were just born. It’s not easy learning about how to take care of a little guy, but your Dad talked with a shine in his eye when he talked about how awesome it was to be ‘Daddy.’ When Justin was born, Chris became my ‘expert’ advisor – he told me, this one time, when Justin was not sleeping very well, that things would get better (which, of course, it did). Our family was living in Singapore then (my wife and I were not from there) and just that familiar, kind voice across the world re-assuring me that I wasn’t alone in my parental challenges helped a lot. I’m sure your Mom knows, when you’re not in your own country, it really helps to have a friendly global support network to keep you company.
Jude, I know some of this stuff might not feel very relevant right now, but as the days go on, I hope it does. I just wanted to know how much I thought of your Dad, how much I miss him (I think about him and you guys a lot), and how lucky he was to have had you and your Mom in his life. His memory will live on forever, and as you get older, I hope some of the stories from his friends and family will travel with you, wherever you are.
I hope you have a wonderful 2017, and Justin, Mimi, and I are thinking of you guys from across the world.
Also, Justin has said that if we are ever in London, or if you are where we are (in Tokyo now), he would really love to meet you. He likes soccer, lego, dinosaurs, and dancing. Maybe you’d like to play together sometime!
John, Mimi, and Justin Stark