Friday, June 18, 2010

Business by the Book

Here's my dad when he was in his twenties:

And here's me and my dad in 1977, when I was three years old:

Growing up, my Dad and I had little in common. I loved doing artistic things, like drawing and creative-writing. He loved conducting business, like selling mechanical seals, co-founding a chinese restaurant, and investing in soup vending machines.

But in 1987, my Dad and I shared an unexpected interest. He took me to see Wall Street, and I became entranced by the exciting world of stock trading.

My dad then invited me to choose nine stocks from which he would buy some shares. He taught me how to look up those share prices and track their progress in this notebook:

The mysterious stock abbreviations, the difference between NASDAQ and the NYSE, the dramatic charts and numbers: my dad confirmed the wonder that Wall Street promised, and I could understand why he became a business man.
One morning—dizzy with excitement and seeking confirmation—I exclaimed:
My parents reacted with stunned expressions. My artistic mom probably offered an opposing view, but what I remember most is how my dad didn't say a word.
The next year, my dad and I stopped following the stock market when he fell ill with cancer. He was in the hospital for many months before passing away at the age of 41. I was 13.

As a teenager, I reaffirmed my true love for art. As a grown-up, my joy and job is learning, creating and sharing art. Would I have been wealthier as a stock broker? Yes. Am I happier as an artist? Yes.

In retrospect, what I valued most was the time my dad and I spent together, knowing we had something in common.
For this Father's Day, I made a mini version of our Stock Market Notebook:

And I presented it to him:

Some people are vocal encouragers, like my wonderful mom. Others are vocal discouragers. But there are also people who—like my dad—wordlessly encourage us to find our own paths to happiness.

Thank you, Dad.

And happy Father's Day, everyone. In what ways has your dad encouraged you?


  1. That was beautiful. Thank you so much.

  2. Oh Howie, what a wonderful tribute to your father. *wipes away tears*

  3. In the last pic there is a big likeness with you and your father!
    Mine is very silent and he have had few acts of love when I was a little child (for what I can remember...) but now I know that he can support me in any choice I make, and help me in every single case.

  4. that is a beautiful story and a great way to comemorate your dad. Thanks a lot for sharing!!

    My dad was a very good story teller (he made them up himself). Most of his messages came through those stories and in certain situations they still pop up in my head.

  5. Thank you for reminding me about how important our dads our to us - I was really moved by your post so thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  6. What a lovely way to remember your dad. Very personal and moving. Very brave of you to share too.

    I lost my dad when I was very tiny and always imagine how amused he'd be by my yarnstorming. Maybe I'll do a yarnstorm just for him. You've inspired me. As always. :)

    Deadly K xx

  7. Oh Howie. That was wonderful. I lost my dad way too early too. What a wonderful tribute to him. ((hugs))

  8. What a touching post! Thank you for sharing your father with us so beautifully.

    *wipes eyes*

  9. Howie, I am truly touched. You are an awesome artist, but more importantly, an awesome human being. I think your Dad would be very proud by the choices you've made for your life, and I'm sure he'd be proud of who you've become. :)

    I lost my Dad when I was 3, but at the age of 5, I was blessed with another Dad. My fondest memories of the two of us spending time together are riding in the big Ryder truck when we moved up north from Southern Ontario, and of him sharing his love of computers with me. If I were to crochet a tribute to my Dad, it would probably be an ami Vic 20!

    It's the simplest of things that touch us the deepest. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post. I have to go wipe my tears and blow my nose now!

  10. Wow Howie! This has been the most beautiful and deep entry I have ever read in a blog. I am doing this anonymously, because right now I am having a lot of trouble with my parents. They are both alive, but they messed up my life... anyway, this post is amazing and so simple and so true. You have your story clear and I am happy reading it, because I hope one day I can talk, not only to my parents, but ABOUT my parents with this honesty and love and clearness and gratitude. Thanks Howie, really thank yo very much :) (one of your followers)

  11. Howie, this made me cry. What a sweet tribute to your dad! You are amazing in so many ways. I just know he's proud of you.

  12. inspiring and touching. thanks for that blog. now I am missing home a little bit.

  13. What a wonderful way to celebrate your dad and all he has done for you. He sounds like he was a very special person and influence on your life.

    I'm with Joanna's comment, it made me cry too. A very special tribute indeed.

  14. You made me cry Howie! Such an awesome tribute to your Dad (you look just like him in that first pic!).

    I'm glad you followed on with your artistic side - but also glad that you both could find some thing in common.

    It's not father's day here in NZ, but I'm thankful that my Dad taught me to surf, even though I haven't quite continued on and become a champion surfer like he dreamed I would!

    Must have been difficult losing your Dad at such a young age. Thanks for sharing. xox

  15. That was an amazingly beautiful tribute to your father.

  16. Thanks for sharing. When I saw the first picture of your dad, surprisingly I didn't think about my own. I thought about my boyfriend's dad. His dad died when he was really young and that picture reminded me of a picture I've seen of him. I've always had a wish that my dad could be more "fatherly" towards my boyfriend since he never really had that. I'm sure your dad appreciates the book, have a happy father's day. :)

  17. Hugs to you Howie. It is a wonderful thing that you can look back and know that before you lost him, you were able to connect on some level. Cherish the fact that you have those memories to hold on to.

  18. Tears here too Howie, this is a beautiful tribute and you've got me thinking about my dad too and just how clever and talented he was.

  19. Very touching.

    My dad died when I was 3. I use to make a card and bring it to his grave stone when I was young. I remember carefully sealing it in clear wrap to protect it.

    Thanks for giving me that memory.

  20. That was heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing that story and moment with us.

  21. This is so beautiful and touching. Thank you (sends e-hug)

  22. JelliDonut: And thank you for reading :)

    Joycers: I'm glad you see beauty in this post, thank you :)

    Oiyi: Thanks! I hope it wasn't too touching, especially for a carefree Friday afternoon? :)

    Dragonpearl: I'm happy that you see the post as a tribute :) There should be books written about a loved one's life, but I hope this blog post about a moment reflects some of the boundless goodness of my dad :)

    piccinaccia: The last pic of my dad is one of my favourites because he looks more playful-in-spirit than his formal photos :) The photo was taken while he was on a boat, wearing a life vest.

    I'm happy to hear you have a supportive dad, and I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day with him this weekend, Elisa :)

    die kleene: That was a wonderful & creative way for your dad to use stories to pass his enduring lessons & messages to you! Inspiring :)

    Jessica: Yes, it's amazing how much influence our dads have on us. Parents have so much responsibility, as you know! I hope your family has a fun Father's Day :)

    Deadly Knitshade: Thanks so much for all your support & inspiration too :) I agree that your dad would be so happy & proud to see your beautiful yarnstorming artistry!

    Marcy: It's so sad to lose a parent too early. He'd be proud of you and your creations too, including your beautiful new baby ;) Thank you!

    Anna: Thank you for encouraging me to share my dad stories
    with you!

    Annette: Thanks so much for your sweet words. I'm so happy that the secret raindrop revealed your presence! :)

    You're so right about the simplest of things touching us the deepest. It's a great reminder to provide as many good & fun "role-model moments" as possible, especially to younger ones!

    I can imagine mini-you riding in your Dad's truck, and you beaming at the newest computer tech at the time :) I'd love to see your crocheted Vic 20!!

    Anonymous: I hope your relationship with your parents improves in time, and I hope your experience with them has resulted in a stronger-you, either way :) It took me decades before I wrote about my dad, but I also appreciate that time spent reflecting. You've got my encouragement, for what it's worth :) Thank you!

    Joanna: Thanks for your kind sentiments :) I hope this entry wasn't too sad for a playful crochet blog, right? :)

    vince: Yes, there's no place like home :) Thanks for dropping by!

    Rebekah: I appreciate your emotion, thank you :) Like many, I do wish I knew my dad a bit better, but I do remember him as someone special, you're right :)

    PaisleyJade: You're so supportive, thanks so much :) I love how your dad taught you to surf! And your children must be proud to have a surfing mom, wow!! You & your family must make everyday feel like Father's Day for your husband, I'm sure :)

    Jillie the Great: I'm happy that you visited the tribute then, thank you :)

  23. Karen: That's very sweet that you thought of your boyfriend's dad :) Your boyfriend is lucky that you want him to have a father figure. As a teenager, I rebelled further against authority figures after my dad died. I though (and still sometimes think): "You're not my dad. What makes you think I'm gonna listen to you?" There are pros and cons to that reaction, as you might imagine :D Happy Father's Day to you and your dad!

    Carol: Thanks so much, and thanks for visiting :))

    Amethyst: Yes, I cherish the few but precious memories I have of him :) I wish I had more video footage of him though. A few years back, we transferred some 16mm film of my parent's wedding onto dvd. It was a thrill to see him again, though much younger!

    Louise: I would expect your dad to be clever and talented, as you are :) A lucky parent gets to raise a child who becomes an amazing glass artist like you! :)

    Glenn: Thanks for sharing that moving image of you making a well-protected card for your dad's grave stone.

    It's a curious experience to leave a gift for someone on their grave stone, right? I kinda wanted the book to sink into the ground so that he could accept it. But today, my mom and sister told me they visited dad's grave and that they saw the orange book. So at least they could see my dad's gift in person? :)

    Elizabeth: Thanks so much :) After watching the video, I didn't plan on posting the video online. It seemed too raw. But finally, MJ suggested I include the moment, and I'm grateful she did :)

    KidUgly: Thank you for the e-hug :))

  24. Hey Howie,
    Thanks for sharing this story. I always wondered about your dad. So glad to see you visiting him for fathers day!!

  25. Hi Howie. I wanted to thank you for sharing this story. Your sharing about your dad really got me to thinking about how my own father has influenced my work. I am truly grateful for the prompt to think on this subject.

    I'm sure that your dad would be very proud of how you have honored his memory. Thank you again for helping me to think about my dad's impact on my life and work and helping me to honor the special man in my life too.

  26. I'm really touched by both the story and the fact you chose to share it. Thank you.

  27. This is the finest story I've read in my today feeds.

  28. thanks for sharing your beautiful story Howie. i love your posts!!

  29. Thank you for your story, it made tears come to my eyes! It's so great for you to honor your father with this great story and the notebook!

  30. Oh Howie, that's so sweet. I love the drawings of you and your father, so expressive. And such a lovely tribute to him. Such a beautiful way to combine your art and this hobby you and he shared. I think he would be very proud of you for following your dreams and being true to yourself.

  31. Howie--
    This is the absolutely most stunning entry I've ever read on here! I love the way you wrote about your dad and how you gave him a replica notebook.

    LOVE IT ALL!!!!
    Amy Lynn

  32. What a lovely tribute to your dad, Howie.

  33. What a beautiful post...I missed my father this Father's Day and so I could truly appreciate the sentiment behind the story you shared, thank you.

  34. You made me cry Howie with this touching post about your dad. I know your dad would be so very proud of you!!!!!

  35. Howie, that is a fantastic story! What a wonderful way to show the different way our parents encourage us. :) My dad is super conservative and overprotective, but when I decided I wanted to jump into a male dominated field and move half way across the world his support was unexpected and meant the world to me. :)

  36. you made my eyes tear! you're wonderful. i'm sure your dad would have cried.

  37. Wow! I don't know what to say other than thank you for sharing your story with me. I lost my dad two years ago and would have given anything to have seen him on Father's Day. He was buried with one of my crocheted blankets over him to keep him warm on his journey. I feel like a little of me went with him in a positive way.

  38. Your tribute was really touching!

    My dad is a journeyman carpenter and tends to approve of very hard work. He's not really into the arts side of life and our difficulty understanding each other's lifestyles has always caused friction. However, when I moved out on my own at 17, he was giving me some things, such as a coffee table he made when he first got into carpentry, and he offered me a worker's jumpsuit. He said I could use it to "paint and stuff." It was a bit funny, since creatively I've never skewed toward painting, but it was really kind and helped bridge the gap between our sensibilities.

  39. I just stumbled onto this blog via twinkieChan's blogs and....have you ever posted on You seem so familiar....

    I loved this post.

  40. Hi Howie,

    Thank you for sharing that. It really is something how you use your gift to express youself this way, and inspire us to appreciate things that need appreciating.

    I can see that the love for your dad very much lives on through you, Lee Andrea, and your mom.

    I came across something recently that reminded me of your work here, in a book by Robert Del Tredici, At Work in the Fields of the Bomb. He's Canadian actually and it's a photo essay of the nuclear age we're in.
    On p. 179, he quotes the prayer in the shrine room next to the autopsy room at the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), Hiroshima. The mandate of ABCC is to study the irradiated populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to diagnose radiation illness but not treat it. "Eighty thousand people were chosen to be studied and are being followed to their deaths."

    The prayer reads: "This is a room for waiting. It stands beside an invisible bridge between the world we know and mystery. Here we wait for those we love to make thier ultimate gift, to help physicians everywhere reduce pain and suffering. This is a room for thanksgiving. Here we gratefully remember our indebtedness to our loved ones for kindness, humor, love, courage. This is a room for prayer. Here we pray for the souls of the departed, for all mankind, and for ourselves, that even in our sorrow, we may be given something of the peace that passeth all understanding and strength for the tasks that lie ahead."

  41. This is the first of many of your blog posts that I'm going to read and I'm really glad I started here. This is a really great story and your cartoons and crocheted book make it all the better.

    I kinda wanna see that film now too!

  42. Wow, that's a really beautiful story..
    Very touching.

    My dad and I used to argue a lot when I was younger. We're too similar, very subborn. He lives quite far away now, and now that I hardly every see him anymore, I get him, and he gets me.
    Even though we're so far apart, we're closer than we used to be, living together.
    I know he loves me more than anything, and will support me no matter what. What could be better than that?

  43. Hilda: Thanks for visiting :) Yes, I didn't really talk about my dad many years (decades?) ... My grandfather (on my dad's side) recently passed away, so that likely brought back some held-back memories and emotions? I hope your own dad had a super father's day :)

    Itsy Bitsy Spider: I'm happy that this story might have jogged some fond thoughts about our dads :) Most of us would like the approval of our parents, and it reminds me to be more approving of family members as well...

    10570Fan: Thank you for participating in the story :)

    Mimiko: I subscribe to an overwhelming number of news feeds, so I feel fortunate that this story rose to the top of your feeds :) Thank you :)

    Rachel Kate: I'm grateful for your blog visits, Rachel! Thanks so much :)

    RollerScrapper: I hope the tears weren't too blue, though I'm happy you read this story about Dad :)

    KelleBelle: Thanks so much for all your reassuring sentiments :) I hope he would be proud! I hadn't drawn my dad since he passed away, and it was wonderful to see the expressions on his face, even though it was in a drawing...

    Amy Lynn: I'm glad you liked this entry, Amy :) I hesitated to write about my dad because I knew it wouldn't be a playful subject. So I'm grateful for the wonderful feedback & reminders to tell the too-true stories along with the wackier stories :)

    Missy: Thanks so much, Missy :) I admire how you come from such a creatively-inspiring family too!

    Anonymous: On Mother's Day or Father's Day, it must be emotionally difficult for many many people whose parents are no longer here. I appreciate your appreciation, thank you :)

    Kara: Thank you for shedding some tears and for sharing your uplifting words, Kara :)

    Laura: That's so wonderful to hear about your dad's support of you & your career! It's heartwarming when parents surprise us with their open-mindedness...

    leesasaur: Thank you :) I do remember seeing/hearing my dad cry a few times when I was young... I guess I can take after him in that way too ;)

    Beverooni: Thank you for sharing your story about your dad and how you gave him one of your crocheted blankets for his burial. Your blanket was such a warm expression of your warm thoughts for your dad :)

    Anonymous: I love your lovely story about your dad showing you support by showing support for your "paint and stuff" :) Such a vivid scene, I can picture it!

    Skuld: Why yes, I sometimes cross-post on Craftster :) I did get a message from them recently, asking if I could remove my watermark from all my past photos. So I haven't been posting there recently haha I hope you stick around, thank you!

    Bonnie: Thank you for the beautiful prayer. Even with our rich range of religious beliefs, this line is universal: "Here we gratefully remember our indebtedness to our loved ones for kindness, humor, love, courage." :)

    geollyn: I'm happy that you found my blog! The other posts are rarely as somber, though I'll soon write about my grandfather, who recently passed away after living a very long life...

    Yes, "Wall Street" is worth a watch, though it's actually a cautionary tale :)

    La Lisette: That's such a sweet description of your relationship with your dad, thank you :) It's funny how similar personalities can lead to some friction at first. At the same time, it sounds like that similarity has now lead to strong support & understanding :)

  44. Beautiful. A moving tribute to your father.

  45. OH my goodness. I'm crying my eyes out right now!! This is wonderful. My dad died in 2005 and I miss him so much :( I'm sorry you didn't get much time to know your dad, but your tribute it beautiful.

  46. Howie this is fantastic! I am lucky to still have my dad around, but he is the same kind of dad yours was. The silent encourager. How sweet of you to do this, and how very nice of you to share with us. :)

  47. Christine: Thank you for reading the tribute, Christine :)

    Allison: It sounds like you and your dad were close, and I'm so sorry that you lost him in 2005. He must have been so delighted by you and your creative creations :) Thank you for sharing...

    lindseycore: I like that you have a Silent Encourager dad too! They should have their own Facebook fan page, right? :)

  48. i loved this post and the book, but what really got me was how i have pretty much the same photo of my father as your last one. my pop used to always stick a little of his tongue out when you took his photo! i felt a bit misty-eyed, but in the best way possible. thank you.

  49. have a hug howie
    you dad was a year older than mine, and I lost him far to early at aged 51 ...

  50. Hello Howie - Im new to your blog and wanted to stop by and say how much Ive enjoyed reading it - especially this post. Thank you for sharing such a touching story, it was very moving.

    With love
    Julia x

  51. milk and cake: Thank you :) Yes, it's fascinating how our parents' traits (like how they smile or pose, etc) can remain with them from childhood to adulthood, then reappear in their children/grandchildren.

    Raggy Rat: Yes, 51 is too early to have lost your proud dad… Any age seems too early to lose our loved ones, too often. Thank you :)

    Carlene: Thank you for the Big Hug :)

    Julia: Thanks for visiting and for liking this post, Julia. It was cathartic to share this story, and I very much appreciate everyone's kind comments and support :)

  52. Wow, this is so special. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    My own dad grew up in a very dysfunctional household and had substance abuse issues from a young age and time in and out of jail for all of my childhood.

    Still, I understand that he was the best father he could be and today he and I are close.

    He has taught me a lot about life, people, and most importantly, love.

    And this is a reminder that I need to call him right now. We live several hours apart and I miss him. :)

  53. I am honored to meet him through your eyes, Howie. Thank you.

  54. I didn't have a dad. This was very touching though, sorry for your loss x

  55. Such a beautiful and touching story. Thank you so much for sharing.


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