I remember the day like it was yesterday:
My grandfather (Bentley Barrington Carson) and I walked in to world-renowned photographer Roy Cox’s (www.4-optic.com) photography studio in Baltimore-Maryland. True to both of our styles and modality’s– together we zipped down Route 66 to 495N to 95N in my black 2005 BMW coupe. Grandad was in the passenger seat and I was driving despite me being able to remember what it was like when he drove his freshly washed car in New York and I was instead the passenger as a little one. On this day…he didn’t seem to mind that I sped a little. Grandad liked a little fun and adventure. (I get much of my love of freedom and adventure and travel in addition to my business mind and analytical abilities from him and my father.) I had flown Grandad into Virginia days earlier from his retirement home in Port St Lucie-Florida and he was staying with me in my apartment/flat.
Roy Cox who has become like an old family friend to me (due to having done so many photoshoots of mine) was stunned and maybe a little teary eyed. Roy had never had a client bring their grandparent in to his studio to do a photo shoot of them and them alone. Roy intuitively understood how personal this was to me and why I was doing it. You see my grandfather and I were close. Subconsciously I had a feeling that my time left with him on the planet was lessening. Grandad’s memory was going. His ability to remain independent was lessening. I said to Roy: “I want you to capture him.” I wanted Roy to capture every hard-earned line in Grandad’s face. I wanted him to capture his miserly sensibilities and his English properness. I wanted to forever have an artifact that captured exactly who he was on a day to day basis.
On a day to day basis–Grandad was: gentle ... kind ... lighthearted … quick to forgive … scrutinizing … critical ... cultured … resolute ... stern ... opinionated ... prepared ... always ready to laugh … always ready to have a good time … always ready to go somewhere … always sensible ... and tidy.
You see ... granddad was as close as a girl can get to having a hero on this planet. He was one of the few places I had to ‘lay my head’ proverbially speaking – that was gentle and unconditionally loving.
My bond with my grandfather was definitely one for the history books. We were not only close…we were friends. The generational gap never mattered. I enjoyed his old fashioned ways and agreed with most of them. Grandad was a man that I could find no flaw in. Grandad was a man that was a gentleman to me and an example of what a gentleman should be to a lady. Grandad was always clean and crisply dressed. Grandad always smelled good. Grandad always had money in the bank and never seemed to mind writing me a check despite the fact that when he initially came to America from England he worked what some would consider: menial jobs. Grandad honored my late grandmother every chance he got despite remarrying a second time. Grandad looked at me one day with tears in his eyes and said: “You know I loved that woman. She was such a good woman to me.”
Grandad bought me my first set of wheels: a red tricycle that my male first cousin and best friend at the time broke by ‘driving’ it into the ground. Grandad (and Grandma) made sure that when I turned 18 I had $20.000 USD in the bank. Grandad (and Grandma) made sure that I had a musical instrument (an organ) to learn how to play as a child. Grandad loved to party. Grandad loved a good stiff drink: Jamaican rum or a good scotch whiskey. Grandad was always helping people–helping family members move from overseas to America. He was nurturing yet effortlessly masculine and uniform. Grandad was always reading the Marketplace or Business section of the newspaper. Grandad was always watching every dime and every cent while investing. I was not only his firstborn grandchild but I was an only child for a significant amount of time. My grandfather adored me and I adored him. Our friendship was timeless and enduring. (I’m probably not married today because I’m looking for: a combination of him and my father in potential suitors.)
I have memories with my grandfather that are etched into my consciousness thankfully…like when he used to allow me to stay up late to watch his favorite sport: baseball (Team: The New York Yankees) with him while we cracked fresh peanuts over newspaper or like the couple of times we had a good stiff drink together once I was an adult. We toasted and enjoyed conversation. I loved how proper my grandad was. He was the type of gentleman who always had creases in his shirts and slacks. Grandad was the type of gentlemen who knew how to slow-dance with any lady of any age without sacrificing proper etiquette or insulting her boundaries. Grandad always called me: “Darling.” Grandad knew how to make anyone feel cared for and respected. He was sophisticated and yet quite simple. He was ruthless when it came to penny-pinching and his finances but ever so easy to entreat.
As you can see reader…I could go on and on about my Gramps.
When he initially grew ill and ultimately passed away…I went into shock for at least 6-8 months and it wasn’t the kind of shock anyone could notice. I am only beginning to process his departure. The day that they buried him I insisted on being alone for various reasons that I wont list here. Aside from God Almighty my grandfather was not only my hero— he was my standard in addition to being a trusted guide and a representation to me of all things ideal and good. When he died he had lived on 3 different continents…. traveled…invested so well that he had well over 6 figures in the bank in cash…owned homes etc.
More importantly….he died with his name and reputation in tact.
Dear Reader: I hope you were inspired by some of the things I’ve shared about my grandfather that are meaningful to me. Although he is only a part of my personal and professional journey- he made a major and indelible impact on me. I certainly was inspired by his life and I wanted to take the time to not only honor him by introducing him to the world both here and in my soon to be released memoir: “The Zeitgeist of Chameleons That Roost..” but by sharing in my next blog post some wisdom that I gleaned from his life and persona that apply to life and business. It’s certainly too good to keep to myself!
Until next time…in the spirit of freedom and potentiality and sharing and disruption…the sky is NOT the limit.
Dear Grandad: “Here’s looking at you kid! ” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAbDNUj8pxo