By Thad Plumley
The stories were coming in fast before everyone had even arrived.
A group of my friends from college had agreed to head to our alma mater on a particular day, and the jokes and jabs were flying as everyone gathered.
Well, almost everyone.
Chris wasn’t there. A victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus struck him down a little more than one year earlier. Chris, however, was the exact reason the rest of us had found our way back to school.
It was Dad’s Weekend, and the campus was filled with proud papas being escorted on the maze of leaf-covered paths by their daughters. Chris’ daughter, Reagan, is a freshman at our alma mater.
As the weekend neared, all of Chris’ buddies were thinking the same thing: Man, Chris would have loved Dad’s Weekend! He would have beamed as he and Reagan bounced around the campus for two days.
So, one of the friends had an idea. He called Chris’ wife, Roni, and asked if we could step in. After discussing it with Reagan and taking some time to think about it, Roni called back and said, “Let’s do it.”
Suddenly seven middle-aged guys, their friend’s widow, and an 18-year-old freshman were together. The men were all dads for a day—and we couldn’t have been prouder.
We showed Reagan where her dad lived, where he went to class, where he played tennis on scholarship as a member of the men’s tennis team, and we told her stories. Oh, did we tell stories!
At one point after a tale involving a local watering hole, someone said, “Maybe we shouldn’t be saying some of these things about Reagan’s dad.” Roni quickly stepped in: “Keep them coming!”
She needed it I could tell. The reason I could tell is I needed it too. We all did.
The day came in the busiest part of my work schedule. Coincidentally, it fell that way for a few of the other dads for a day, one of whom had even driven five hours to be there.
You must stop and take time out for yourself.
But busy or not, scrambling a bit at the office when I got back or not, it was something I had to do. My deadlines may have been tight, but I felt good for a long time following the experience.
I mention all of this to say one thing. I know you, your current workloads, and the hours you are logging to tackle those long job lists. Still, you must stop and take time out for yourself. Believe me, your mental health will thank you.
No, it won’t result in an item being checked off a to-do list, but you’ll come back to that list energized and healthy.
You may pick up a good story or two along the way.
Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and the director of publications for the National Ground Water Association. He is currently the secretary for the AM&P Network Associations Council Advisory Board. The AM&P Network is a national association for publishing professionals.. He can be reached at email@example.com, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.