In honor of Father’s Day, I am sharing this story about my Dad along with a To Do Today, both written by his friend John Hayden.
While I had known Billy Keating for many years prior, the first in-depth conversation I remember having with him occurred at a rubber-chicken dinner event around the time he was bulking up and training for his English Channel swim.
I recall asking Billy what his training regimen included, to which he replied with that little smile of his, “eating Graeter’s strawberry chip ice cream while sitting in a bath tub filled with ice.”
I kid you not… those were his exact words! Nothing about the endless miles he would swim each and every day, nothing about the mental toughness required to survive the experience, nothing about preparing his body for the physical demands of the endeavor… just his typical modest, self-depricating humor.
This simple anecdote expresses everything I came to know about Billy. He was a master of understatement. He was relentless in his preparation. He was unassuming in his delivery of advice. He was more focused on the needs of others than he was on his own. He was a man of good humor. He sought to learn new things every day. He was drawn to challenge.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have come to know Billy as well as I did. We worked together on any number of community initiatives. We were colleagues on the Midland Company Board of Directors. We were sons of fathers who shared a rare friendship. We were fathers of daughters who would become equally good friends. We shared breakfast with those daughters annually during the holiday season at the Echo, an event which gave rise to the concept of “breakfast dessert” – after we finished breakfast, we’d take a trip around the corner to Graeter’s for a scoop of ice cream and a cheese crown! And while we were dear friends, I somehow feel like Billy always managed to learn more about me than I was ever able to learn about him. That was his gift.
To Do Today: Be “others oriented” and your life will be richer for it. End every exchange as Billy did – with the words “What else?” What else can I do for you? What else is there you want me to know? What else can I learn from you?