Norman paused to read the engraved desk sign and held it up so he could study flashing gold lettering as he turned it to pick up light reflections. It had been a habit of his since his son had presented it to him several years ago when Norman made him partner in the practice. The marble sign said Norman T Claridge CPA and it had replaced the old desk sign made from plastic with black lettering. He still had it in the top drawer to be packed in cardboard containers he son Ron had supplied. The old sign had memories having been presented to him by the original owner of the practice when Norman bought in as a junior partner, so he’d retained it.
He was known in the community affectionately as Norm and that name was reflected on membership wall boards in various sporting clubs where in his youth he’d been a prominent sports participant and until recently up with the top players at the golf club. That was before the old heart had given way as he was interviewing one of his most important clients and he’d narrowly avoided death. Ron had swiftly moved in to fill the gap.
Ron had all the drive of an entrepreneur. Since being taken in as a partner he’d pulled in several major clients and convinced his father they needed to take in some of the recent graduates from university to help while they completed their own CPA requirements. Ron was aiming to expand the business as he’d seen potential while undergoing training with one of the big accounting firms. Ron had an MBA under his belt as an underpinning to his own CPA qualifications. There was no fortune to be made from the old small clients or community societies Norman had presided over and donated his time in an honorary capacity over the years. Ron had his sights set on the big time and social climbing with an end view to perhaps a political career.
Norman resumed packing again selecting each item and studying it before carefully placing in the cardboard box provided. There were pictures of his family and little gifts his grandchildren had given over the years. They were all growing up now and choosing their respective careers. Then he began moving papers from the cabinet into boxes. He’d continue his honorary work for charities in retirement. It would keep his brain active. The doctor had cleared him for his exercise routines and his beloved golf. He’d miss his office the comings and goings of clients, and daily interaction with staff some of whom had been with him for many years. He felt sad Ron was planning to move some of them into retirement as he felt they were unqualified for the type of practice he was developing and actively recruiting clients for at a higher level. This required the kind of whiz kids coming out of university these days.
He packed the last few items and sat surveying the room. There on the wall was the most important items he’d forgotten. The wall plaques indicating his professional qualifications. He got up wearily and took them down carefully. He’d really slogged to finance his way through school and get those qualifications. Looking at them he reviewed his career pausing momentarily at all the high points along the way. He’d met his wife Gillian at college, and she’d sent out clear signals she wanted to become Mrs Norm Claridge, so they married, and she stepped into the workforce to help him through his higher education. When he was established and beginning to prosper in his work she completed her own education in social sciences. There were those years when the children came. Gillian was an amazing wife and mother and he showered his love and attention on them. They in turn understood the pressures of his work and supported him when he bought out the original owner of the firm and had to spend more time working.
Ron was the only one of his children who’d shown an active interest in taking over the practice from his father. It had been a difficult relationship transition moving from father figure to partner with his son. There’d been moments of difficulty in this new relationship as the father’s community spirit sometimes clashed with the entrepreneurial spirit of the son who saw no financial gain in the freebies offered to all those charitable organizations. Now it was apparent the practice was going to go in another direction as Norman retired. He was thinking of selling his share of the partnership, so he’d have no part in that transition even as a silent partner in the firm. Ron was quite happy to buy out his father’s share, then he could choose the kind of partners he wanted to have buy in to the direction he’d take the firm.
Norm was arrested in his thoughts as he turned to see who was knocking softly on his door.
“Are you ready for me to move those boxes to your home Mr Claridge? It was Wan the office boy at the door.
Norm smiled and nodded indicting the boxes. Wan moved in quickly, placed the lids and taped them securely then lifted them onto the dolly to take down to the basement where he had the practice mini-van waiting. It would take a few trips up and down the elevator to clear boxes from the office.
Ron noted the first load headed for the elevator and excused himself from the interview room indicating he’d be back quickly to finish the interview. His secretary offered drinks and snacks to the clients while he was away.
“Everything in order Dad?”
Norm smiled and nodded. He was beginning to experience a feeling of freedom mixed with sadness. The upside was he’d be able to spend a lot more time with Gillian and his grandchildren. He was well beyond seventy now and had been feeling the pressure of being part of this practice, so it was time to let go. He tried to understand why the sadness then? Ah, that was it! He was not mourning the loss of position and influence he was mourning the fact years had passed so rapidly making this transition necessary. But the doctor had told him if he kept up his exercises and chose good diet and adequate rest he had many years to look forward to.
He rose from his chair and strode over to the door where Ron waited.
“Need any help getting down to your car Dad?” Ron suddenly remembered he had clients waiting for him in the interview room and hoped his Dad would say no.
Norm shrugged and placed his hand affectionately on his son’s arm. “I’m fit as a fiddle and quite able to make it down son.”
They walked together and Norm paused at the interview room to give a quick greeting to the clients gathered there as he passed on while Ron returned to the interview. As Norm pressed the down arrow on the elevator an overpowering feeling of sadness returned. He walked to his car with tears rolling down his cheeks.
A half hour later Wan found him slumped against the steering wheel of his car and called up 911. The paramedics looked at each other as they gently moved him. Norm was gone, but on his face was a look of contentment and it was apparent the end had been swift when it came.
Ron was beside himself with grief, even more so than the rest of the family who mourned Norm’s passing. Whereas he’d imagined his father was too old fashioned in his ideas while they worked together he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support before, during and after his father’s funeral. He could see now clearly what was most important in life. He’d imagined that position and power was the key to happiness and success. Now it was apparent the most important thing in life is the legacy one leaves behind when it’s all ended. He resolved to reorder his priorities.
Yes, it’s important to move with the times and there’s nothing wrong with striving to build something worthwhile. So, he’d continue plans to expand and build what his father had started. But this he’d balance with an imitation of the community spirit that had driven his father and mother over the years.
As soon as funeral arrangements had settled, and the family realized a necessity to get on with their lives Ron retrieved charity files his father had moved home and had them taken back to the office. He offered his services free to these charities in replacement of his father and was gratefully accepted by them. He would carry his father’s philosophy through life and hopefully leave that legacy to the next generation in the family to carry on.
© Copyright 2019 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved
The above image is by courtesy of and copyrighted to Jantoo Cartoons