There is not always a tomorrow

I recently had a sad revelation that time slips away faster than we imagine. It is easy to convince yourself that what you didn’t get done today can be done tomorrow. And, there is always a tomorrow, until there is not one.

Dorman Stout was a long-term mentor and friend to me. After his retirement, I had not seen as much of him as I would have wanted. I had been meaning to visit him soon, but that is no longer possible. Dorman passed away recently.

I first met Dorman over twenty-five years ago as a upstart junior partner in a real estate development firm owned by Robin Miller. He was our attorney.

In the real estate business you work with a lot of attorneys. It was from Dorman I learned that a good lawyer is worth every single nickel you pay. (and a bad one isn’t worth a penny…although he would never have said that). Dorman was worth his weight in gold.

To me, he was smart, perceptive, and patient…mostly patient. He played the wise man to a fool, the rookie who couldn’t tell a plat from a pencil, a novice afraid to let people know he didn’t know. But, Dorman knew. Yet, in his kindness and patience he taught rather than lectured. And, I learned.

Dorman loved his work and he liked to work late. It was not unusual to get a call from him late in the evening to discuss a project we were working on. You just got used to it.

He had a brilliant mind. He identified problems and pitfalls before they occurred. He developed strategies to overcome the hurdles.

The greatest compliment he paid me was when I had sent him my draft of a contract on a deal. He called and told me that I had done a good job and asked if he could use it. I was flattered.

Most of the people we meet in life are “takers.” They play the “What’s in it for me?” game. Dorman never came across that way. He was my partner, helping me accomplish my goals. I believe he rejoiced in helping other people succeed. In that, he was a rare breed indeed.

Along the way, we talked…about business, but also about life. When my father died in 2002, Dorman became a surrogate father. I cherished the time we spent together. He buoyed me when I was down and he grounded me when I was over the top.

Simply put, he was a better man than I, and used his gifts to help me become a better person than I was.

I think I was part of the second generation of people upon whom Dorman had an important impact. I have spoken to many of my contemporaries that knew him as a coach when they were kids. At his memorial service, his lovely wife Mary Ann, said that he considered me one of his “boys.” I am but one of many who consider that a high honor.

I now have another regret to add to my list of failings. I say that not with any self-pity, rather with a deep sorrow that I did not find the time to spend on something truly important, rather I got caught up in the minutia of my life and work.

I know better. We all know better. There is no end of self-help books that advises us to do the important things first. Despite all the advice, we still fail. Truly there is not always a tomorrow and it is a bitter lesson I learn…again and again.

I wish I had the opportunity to tell Dorman personally all of these things I feel.

I lost a great mentor and surrogate dad and the community lost one of its true grand gentlemen. Dorman, you will be greatly missed.

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