The Evolution of a Father

With Father’s Day around the corner, many of us look back at the father figures in our lives. We may feel mixed emotions but regularly end up reminiscing about some special times with them.

This year, while reminiscing I took the time to look back at my father’s life. He was born in Germany just before WWII, and now enjoys a mostly-idyllic life in Southern Switzerland. His generation has experienced incredible world changes, requiring great adaptability to live happily and successfully. My hero went from surviving life in a WWII bunker and significant food shortage (sugar was considered a rare treat!), to having to choose between an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to keep in touch with his family. And he tackled everything that happened in between.

For my Dad, work life started at 14, which was not unusual at that time. He started with an apprenticeship, followed by a master certificate in his trade. The foundry work was physically taxing, but he excelled at it. After a few moves between foundries, he found (through placing an ad in the newspaper!) and was offered a job in the Southern part of Switzerland.

Even though he had never traveled outside of Germany, he made the brave decision to relocate. In pre- internet times, it was a challenge to gather information about a new destination. My father and mother had to plan a true ‘look-and-see’ visit (involving an 800-mile drive each way), hoping they would be able to gather all the knowledge needed to set up a new life for their young family.

After Dad received a Swiss work permit, which was no easy feat back then, his entire family moved to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. A lot was different than expected, despite look-and-see visit. There were years of struggle, but after what my parents went through in their childhood and youth, they had developed great resilience.

My hero plowed through the tough times. His courage and his commitment to being a provider for his family allowed him to start anew after any fall. Providing for his loved ones was his key motivating factor, it allowed him to see and to embrace new possibilities when needed. In his late forties, he was in a place from where there was only one way out: starting his own business. He was determined to send his two daughters to college and pay for their education.

My father is a true entrepreneur and master planner. With lots of hard work, the business flourished. His customers loved his ability to understand and address their needs, as well as his unfailing reliability and honesty. His daughters graduated college debt-free.

He retired at 62, after 48 years in the workforce and after having saved for a very comfortable retirement.

To this day he embraces any challenge with courage, determination and rigorous work. He has never stopped being generous, without being wasteful. Most of all, he still loves being with and providing for his family.

That’s Erich – my father, my children’s grandfather and our hero – in a nutshell. I don’t know where we would be without him.

Wherever you are, may you remember and celebrate your heroes. Happy Father’s Day!