Off The Wall: The Way I Heard It 29 for Jennifer’s Dad

Mike Rowe – I just wanted to send you my heartfelt thanks for your podcast, The Way I Heard It. My father is dying. Listening to your podcast is a shared activity for us. Some days we visit and reminisce and some days he just likes to listen to you. I’m so thankful. Don’t ever doubt for a minute that you are making a difference and that you are doing God’s work. Thank you. ‎Jennifer Skiba‎

Hi Jennifer. I’m sorry your Dad is ill, and sincerely flattered to hear that he finds me to be good company in such a difficult time. Please give him my best.

It occurs to me that I’ve been honored over the years – deeply honored – to receive similar notes from similar people in similar circumstances. I remember a commercial shoot a few years ago in LA. Between takes, one of the guys on the crew pulled me aside and told me how Dirty Jobs had brought he and his 95-year-old Dad back together in the final year of his life. His name was Cris, and he become emotional as he explained that many times – when neither man knew exactly what to say to the other – they could both look up at the screen and enjoy whatever was happening on Dirty Jobs.

“You just can’t believe how much my Dad appreciated your show and admired you for doing it,” said Cris. “He used to say you might be the only “man’s man” left in Hollywood.”

I laughed and said, “Well, I hope you didn’t tell him I’m from Baltimore.” Then I asked him what his father had done for a living.

“He was an actor,” said Cris.
“Really? Would I know him,” I asked.
“Maybe,” said Cris. “He made a lot of movies.”
“What was his name?”
Cris paused and said, “His name was Ernest Borgnine.”

Cris didn’t know that I’d seen every episode of McHale’s Navy, and most of his Dad’s films. He had no idea how much I enjoyed Ice Station Zebra and Marty. He had no idea that earlier that same week, I was arguing with a bunch of guys in a bar somewhere in Pasadena that the fight scene in “Emperor of the North” between Earnest Borgnine and Lee Marvin is superior to all other fight scenes ever filmed. He wasn’t even sure that I knew who is Dad was.

Truth is, most of us go through life never really knowing how we impact the people around us – including those we never even meet. That’s probably the main reason I write these stories. Point being, I was flattered to know that Earnest Borgnine knew me, just as I’m flattered to be there with you and your Dad. Thanks for your note.


PS. Yesterday was World Chocolate Day. ‎Seems a fairly courageous decision, to celebrate chocolate in the heat of July, but whatever. It’s an occasion, and occasions remind me of stories, and this story – though he’s likely heard it already – is for your Dad.

The Way I Heard It 29: The 100 Billion Dollar Bar

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