By Caroline Simaz

This will be the seventh Father’s Day without my father. I lost him suddenly, at a relatively early age of 68. Even in my 40’s I still relied on my father’s wisdom, sage advice and support. Right about the time I lost my dad, I got to know one of my co-workers better. You might recognize his name, or more likely, you actually know Nick Edson. He used to write many of the human-interest columns in this magazine. And if you know Nick, then he probably considers you a friend, and you have been on the receiving end of his generous friendship.

Even before I got to know Nick very well, he could tell that I was deeply affected by the loss in my life. He made, what most would think, a very uncomfortable step and pointed out his observation—opening up a possible dialog of pain. From that point on, Nick has continued to always be “present” when I’m around him. He genuinely wants to know what’s going on in my life and my children’s lives.

About four years ago I was facing some big decisions about selling our house and other financial concerns. Nick patiently listened to my concerns—even set up a meeting time for it—and helped me make some solid choices that I could feel confident about. This is something my own father would have done.

Nick was notorious here at Cherryland to host what he lovingly referred to as “The Phil Donahue Show” in his office. Co-workers would each take their turn on any given day or time and sit across from his desk and just let loose. Whatever was going on in your life, either personally or at work, was brought up in conversation. Even if there was no magic fix to whatever was ailing you, you always felt better leaving Nick’s office than when you entered. Nick has since retired from Cherryland, and I think I am safe in saying that those left behind really miss those talks.

There are other ways that Nick has helped to fill the gap of not only a missing father but even a grandfather for my own children. He is the ever-hopeful cheerleader that attends as many music performances and athletic events as possible. He has taken the time to get to know my children and celebrates with me in all their adventures and successes.

I would bet that Nick doesn’t even realize how he has provided that “missing-father link” in my life; he was just being a genuine friend. I think we can all take a page from Nick’s playbook (Did I forget to mention what a HUGE sports fan Nick is?) and aim to be generous with our friendship. You never know what kind of “gaps” you may be filling in the lives of those around you when you invest in genuine friendship.