There were a significant number of conversations with my father that most people would agree usually occurs between father and son when the son reaches 20 or so. They are the first man-to-man conversations where sire and offspring bond and where the proud papa gets to transfer his “wisdom” to his son(s), you know – man stuff.
I began these conversations, and the relationship that accompanies them much later; in my late 30’s. It gave me and interesting perspective on parenting and living with other people on a planet and being a man. This one, by far, is my favorite of all time.
I was maybe 40 or 41 years old and my Dad was visiting my house. Suddenly he says to me: “Let me see your wallet, son. Please.” I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for that question. I asked him why he wanted to see my wallet, to which he replied: “If I don’t see your wallet, I won’t be able to share a particular thought with you that might be useful.” So I handed him my wallet. He looked into all of the slots and pockets or whatever they are called until he was satisfied and then gave me my wallet back without saying anything at all. He then took out his wallet; a brown bi-fold leather wallet; simple, classic and practical. He opened it wide to expose the two pockets that one accessed basically from the inside middle of the wallet. A common place for business cards and such that one considers “wallet-worthy” but don’t require quick access. He opened up one of those pockets and began to pull out a folded piece of paper, or at least that’s what I thought I was seeing. Suddenly the gesture became familiar: I’d seen him do this before; the folded piece of paper was money, usually a $100.00 bill. He pulled out the bill and unfolded it, indeed it was a nice crisp $100.00 bill. Then he looked at me and his eyes became those of a mischievous little boy and he smiled his irresistible smile – whatever was coming next was going to be, if anything, fun.
Even though we were alone, he looked to his left and then to his right and lowering his voice a bit, said to me:
“Now listen up Son, and listen well. This is what’s called “mad money” you should always keep a C-note in your wallet for mad money. It’s important. Do not forget this, okay?
I simply had to ask, so I did, I said: “What for, pop?” He grinned and let out a slightly sinister giggle as he looked at me and put a hand on my shoulder right before answering my question. He winked at me and said: “Because;… you never know!” and skipped out of the room, giggling all the way out the front door.”
As usual, pop was right. I carried my “mad-money”, as my father taught me until we destroyed the function and concept of money, but during the years that I did, on more than one occasion, it saved my ass, got me out of a mess or was that which allowed me to ask the gorgeous blonde sitting on a buddy’s couch looking bored after everyone else lost their pocket money playing poker if she wanted to have dinner, or drinks. Dad always said: “Never use mad money for anything that you should cover out of your pocket. It will let you know when to pull it out of your wallet. It most certainly did.
Mad money. I would have never, ever calculated the enormous importance of that concept in my life if my father had not passed it down. It may be one of the most useful tools I’ve ever had, because: you never know!
That’s my pop
My father, born Mario Francisco Vidal on October 4, 1923 in Key West, son to Victor Vidal and Dolores Lopez Mayg, also of Key West, FL, passed away this past July 6th, three months shy of his 90th birthday. You may have even ready my post of the day he passed and perhaps even been one of the countless well-wishers who crashed my e-mail server with e-mails! My father loved his home town and carried that love, and the name of Key West, to the 18 countries that he would live in during his career as one of the world’s top hoteliers. Before passing away, the only request he made of his wife and his five sons was that Key West be the final resting place for his ashes. Our family’s commitment to honoring my father’s last request is what is at the root of this message, but it can be much more than that, if we choose as much.
Our plan is to drive to Key West on Friday; October 4, 2013, what would have been his 90th birthday, and together with friends and other members of the family we will do as he instructed us to and spread his ashes out on the water from the Reynolds Street Pier, the very place where he learned to swim as a child. My father was a man who spread a great deal of love during his lifetime and that love was returned and has manifested in the multitudes of people who will join us on October 5th to bring a Native Son of Key West back home to rest and pay our last respects. We need your help to do this; How? We need a tiny bit of financial support in order to make this happen and you can be a part of it! I am asking for you help by contributing whatever you can. There are many of you and even though we only have 24 hours, I’ve never known you to back down or not step up. This is a chance to do better, between all of us, we can give my father the only this he asked all of us for: to go back home to rest in peace. I invite you to participate in what is a truly human event. I will be posting on the events of the upcoming weekend and everyone who was a part of this journey will have their name listed in the honor plaque that I will post next weekend; never forget – what any one of us can do, two can improve on and many of us can make it happen! Thank you for your support! Just click on the Donate button below to join the caravan and bring a native son of Key West back home!
Now this is what I call doing better!
Just click on the link below to be a part of this grand homecoming! Thank you!