Mr. Morris Lives

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Helen is well past ninety. She’s physically healthy, but there are a lot of things she doesn’t remember.

When I stop to talk to her, she always asks the name of my dog. When I tell her, she always says that’s it’s like the dog in some movie. She can’t remember the title of the movie. And she always loves it when I comment on her sundial.

“My father made that,” she says proudly. “Mr. Morris always let the men make things in the shop when their work was done.”

I’m not sure where “the shop” was. From our conversations, I’d guess that it was a metalworking shop of some kind in Eastern Pennsylvania. Helen doesn’t remember.

Helen talks about four things these days. She talks about her garden, the one with the sundial. She talks about her parents and her husband who died decades ago. And she talks about “Mr. Morris.”

Her stories tell you a lot. Mr. Morris took care of his people. He kept men on “even when he didn’t have to.” He evidently was a successful boss because, “when they made money, he shared with all the men.”

Mr. Morris did lots of small things that Helen remembers. She’s told me many times how he let his men come to the front door when they went to his house. When they wanted to talk, they sat in the parlor. Evidently other bosses didn’t do that. They made the people who worked for them come to the back door, where, if they were going to have a conversation, they stood on the back porch.

I don’t know the historical facts about Mr. Morris. But I do know the important things.

I know that Mr. Morris was a good boss. He probably ran a profitable shop and he certainly cared for his people. And I know he was a good man who did good things.

That’s why Helen, who can’t remember the name of the town she grew up in, remembers Mr. Morris, her father’s boss, from decades ago.

Boss’s Bottom Line

My father used to say that you’re alive as long as we tell stories about you. Mr. Morris lives in Helen’s stories. What kind of stories will the people you work with tell about you?

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