It’s 12:53am Oct 20th 2017.
I was just about to go to sleep when I got an email from my brother-in-law with the subject line, “For you”.
No text in the email. Just a photo of my Daddy and I when I was about 5 (the age that my son is right now).
Lovely picture right?
I took one look at it and started to cry. You know the kind; the silent cry. With tears streaming down your face and sniffing back nose-water.
No drama though. It’s not my first time crying about my Dad.
I’ll have to back up a bit so that it all makes sense, but it’s worth it. Stick with me and you’ll get to know my Dad and how he’s helped me approach community for myself and for clients.
You see, this photo, is my absolute favourite photo of my Dad and I, and until recently I thought I’d never see it again. That alone is worthy of some salt-water leaking from your eyes and nose on a Friday night.
You see, the last time I saw this photo was over a decade ago. It was on the background of my uni computer, but I couldn’t find the file or the original photo and assumed I’d never see it again.
Tonight I just sat there and cried as I studied my Dad’s face.
I caught myself looking at my Dad’s hair in the photo; so soft, brown and long and I imagined stroking it with those 5 year old chubby fingers, but even as I pictured how it felt, I had to push back other newer memories.
Ones I’d rather forget.
Daddy in August 2017.
His hair buzzed short, grey and thinning. Only the occasional look in his eye or a smile to tell me that he was still in there somewhere. He can’t speak, walk or feed himself…just tracking me with his eyes from time to time; from where ever it was he just went…in his mind. And no more moustache (shaving it made it easier for them to wash his face). My Dad always had a moustache though…without it he looked like someone I didn’t know.
I’d rather you remember him like the photo above though…with his moustache.
But how did it get to that? What happened?
I’ll fill in the blanks, but let’s stick with the photo for now.
This photo is special. It captures how much I adored my Dad. I can remember how excited I was to be sitting on his lap and to get to wear his cowboy hat. The man who was my biggest fan and always encouraging me…and that I thought was invincible. I was wrong about that last part but he was right a lot.
For example, he was right about something I discovered at Ramit Sethi’s Forefront event in Chicago. You see, I was one of the MCs at Forefront and this was the 2nd time that I had spoken on stage in front of +500 people (the first was at Forefront NYC in 2016).
Now here’s the kicker…for as long as I can remember my Dad used to say,
“Girly, you should be on stage!”
He would say it over and over in different situations. Apparently he thought I was hilarious and that the world should know it. I drummed it up to him having to say that…because I was his daughter and it was his job to think the sun shined out of my ass!
Well, on Sept 27th, 2017, I tested his theory.
I walked out on stage with Marc Aarons and we MCed the shit out of Forefront. It was so much fun to be standing in front of so many amazing people. Holding a mic felt like riding a bicycle…like coming home, and apparently I wasn’t just imagining it.
“From all the speakers that I’ve seen in the last year, I can only say 1 thing. Diana is the most talented one that I’ve spotted. She’s the best at creating a true connection with the audience.” – Chris Out
Chris is to my right.
Damn Daddy…you were right!
I SHOULD be on stage and I’m going to find more ways to make that happen.
But something is missing from all this excitement.
While I loved Forefront and being on stage, I haven’t told my Dad that he was right.
- That I should be on stage and that I nailed it.
- That it was so much fun and exciting and I want to do it again!
I imagine what it would have been like to tell him. I’d have called him on the phone or hopped on Skype and told him ALL about it and he’d listen to every word. Heck…we’d probably head out to the local Tim Hortons if I were in Canada and we’d gab for hours over hot drinks and doughnuts.
He’d probably say something like:
“High-fives girly! I knew you should be on stage. You see…I called it! Now get me another chocolate dip” – Daddy
That conversation didn’t happen though and it never will. He WAS right about a lot of things, including one of his favourite expressions.
“Shit happens, then you die”.
You see, my Daddy, this amazing man in that photo was my biggest fan, best friend and a fighter pilot in the Canadian Air Force. You’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m speaking in the past tense and this isn’t just because I was 5 when that photo was taken, but because he is gone now.
The service program from his funeral.
My Dad passed away almost a year ago on Dec 29 2016, but truthfully we lost him years before that. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the stupidly young age of 51 (right when I first moved to Spain) and he died at the unfair age of 61.
I remember my Mum telling me that when he was having initial assessment tests and check-ins after the official diagnosis, his doctor told him to write a sentence about Alzheimer’s. His sentence?
Alzheimer’s sucks. – David Tower
They laughed…always a funny man he was, but again…he was right. It DOES suck.
Fuck you Alzheimer’s. – Diana Tower
So here I sit, at 1:30am compelled to write and introduce you to my Dad, David Wayne Tower. Why?
What does this man have to do with community?
You see…our parents are the roots of our community, the foundation. If they are there for us, loving, understanding and supportive… we thrive.
If they aren’t there for us, or we lose them…it can leave a hole in our support system…our community foundation is left weakened.
While I’ll never be able to replace my Dad, I have people who remind me of him and his goofy nature, pride, and dedication to excellence; all while being humble at the same time. They also push me to be the best version of me that I can be (just like he did).
- Marc Aarons and Primoz Bozic, are two of my best friends and they also remind me of my Dad. They are both amazing at what they do, while funny as hell; two entrepreneurial powerhouses that I’m honoured to call friends.
- Daniel Sonntag and I speak weekly and these are my new Tim Horton talks, but instead of coffee and doughnuts we use EFT and other techniques to eliminate limiting beliefs and negative emotions. BOOM!
- Allon Khakshouri and I meet weekly as well to incorporate habits into my day to help me not only get more things done, but also make time for what’s important to me (writing, spending time with my family, reading, exercise and sleep).
- Ramit Sethi is my surrogate Asian father (like he is to so many other people). He’s a wonderful combination of tough love, and caring. He’s helped me become more emotionally resilient, strategic, confident and is currently helping me with mindset mastery!
- Gladys Ato is an amazing woman that I met in Selena Soo’s incredible program, Impacting Millions. We met in person in San Francisco over the summer and again at Forefront. She just released an amazing new book, The Good Goodbye: How to Navigate Change and Loss in Life, Love, and Work and boy do I wish I had had this book when I lost my Dad last year. It’s still helping me though…even today. When I saw that photo and felt the emotion well up inside of me, instead of stopping it I heard Gladys’ encouraging voice in my head. “Let it be Diana. Feel it and allow yourself to go there. No judgement”.
- My students and friends (old and new). Antrese from Savvy Painter and Gen from the Inertia Project for example, teamed up and ordered me flowers after my Dad died. It’s not every day that you get flowers sent to you and every gesture feels amazing. Or good friends I’ve known forever taking the time to call me or send me supportive messages. It all meant so much.
Thank you Antrese and Gen!
- Saving the best for last, the foundation of my community is my husband…who is just like my Dad; silly, playful, fun and my biggest supporter. They were two peas in a pod too. I only wish that they had had more time to hang out before the Alzheimer’s kicked in. Watching my husband play and interact with our son reminds me of how my Dad played with me, and how he would have been with my son.
Me and my hubster!
But was my Dad really so great?
I mean, he was my Dad so of course I adored him, but there is more.
My Dad was a Top Gun (yes…my Dad was basically Tom Cruise from the movie Top Gun…though he looked more like Goose than Maverick) but the thing was he didn’t brag about it, he always acted like a normal dude, — that simply liked eating Reeses peanut buttercups while watching chick flicks — even though he was talented as fuck.
Fun Fact: My Dad could also fly 7 different types of fighter jets. That’s right. SEVEN! Do you know how many jets “normal” pilots can learn to fly? One.
That’s right just ONE! #my-dad-is-a-badass
He wasn’t just talented though, he was a lovely person.
At his funeral, a man that he used to work with came up to me. He wanted to tell me about my Dad from his perspective and it stuck with me.
You see, my Dad was a high ranking military officer and this guy was below him in the ranks. All the other pilots at my Dad’s level tended to ignore this guy or treated him as if they were better than him. My Dad treated this guy as an equal and always made him feel welcome and helped him whenever he could. That was how my Dad rolled.
It’s funny because I see so much of this character in me now. He treated everyone like a good friend, he was generous, a great listener, goofy and did one thing extremely well.
For him it was flying. For me, it’s people and community (and GIFs).
Here my Dad is via Skype about 5 years after his diagnosis.
He could still talk to me and say “pull my finger” in that photo. That joke never gets old!
So to land this plane of a post,
What do I want you to think about…now that you know more about my Dad?
A couple things.
- Shit happens, and then you die. Stop worrying so much about what other people might think or how something might not work and just DO it. I’m taking my own advice and launching my podcast.
- Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing something wrong.
- Make sure you have a community supporting you as life throws punches at you. It’s not about avoiding the punches, it’s about having a support system to help you back up when you get clocked in the face. Cause life will happen, and she’s got a mean left hook, so you need people there to ice your face with a steak.
Losing my Dad was hard. I’d been preparing for my good goodbye for 10 years, but having my community around me helps. Like I said, it didn’t stop the hurt but it helps me face it, and allow it.
I’d love to have just one more Tim Horton’s chat with my Dad though. To tell him about everything that’s been going on recently and enjoy a donut or 2 with him.
I know that can’t happen but maybe he has internet in Heaven and can read just how much of an impact he has had on my life.
I love you Daddy.
What about you?
Who’s in your community? Have you lost someone important? How do people support you through tough times as you grow your business?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.