Seize the opportunity!

In my January 22 blog post titled “When was the last time . . .” I mentioned having worked for a lucrative feed and grain brokerage firm in southern California prior to going to Lomalinda, Colombia.

The very distinguished, tall Dutchman who owned the prosperous business was Herbert V. Nootbaar. After just two months at H. V. Nootbaar & Co. and continuing throughout my nearly three years of employment, it was very clear that Mr. Nootbaar was the most generous person I’d ever met. He made rounds to every work station and personally handed each employee an envelope with an extra paycheck while commending them for jobs well done. What incentive for employees to strive to do even better! In November, Mr. Nootbaar sent every employee home with a substantial turkey and all the fixings for a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner. I was still living in Sierra Madre with my parents and maternal grandmother who were completely blown away by Mr. Nootbaar’s kindness. On employees’ birthdays, they were treated to lunch with other employees at a Pasadena restaurant of their own choosing—along with a gift certificate from Bullock’s Pasadena—a very upscale department store. And the list goes on and on.

Mr. Nootbaar retired and lived in a lavish home in Laguna Beach, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He had been married twice and lost both wonderful wives to illnesses. During the expanse of time since I had last seen Mr. Nootbaar, it had been on my mind to call him at the phone number listed online. Finally on August 1, 2016, I picked up my phone and entered his number. His caregiver answered and politely said Mr. Nootbaar was in the restroom and asked if I would please call back in 15 minutes. It took two more calls before Mr. Nootbaar was able to speak with me. He was 107 years young then—understandably, his memory was slightly cloudy. I briefly introduced myself, thanked him for offering me a job in 1972, and expressed my sincere gratitude for his many kindnesses—telling him he was the best employer I’d ever had. He apologized profusely for not remembering who I was, and then said, “Thank you for calling. I love you for telling me this.” His heartfelt words still warm my heart today. Four-and-a-half months later, he passed away after 108 trips around the sun!

Is there someone who needs your thanks?
Please don’t put it off.
I almost waited too long.
So grateful to have heard Mr. Nootbaar’s
cheerful voice one more time.