It’s with deep regret that I share with all of you the passing of my father, Albert von Schweikert. He was dealing with a number of health related issues for the last few months but I can tell you with complete certainty that it never got him down. Even when we were separated by mandatory hospital quarantines from the outside world, he was always cheerful and happy on the phone. And when his time eventually came, it was swift and painless.
To say my father was my hero, role model, source of inspiration, knowledge and wisdom would be trite. He was all of those things and so much more to me and my family. So instead of going down that path, I’d like to share a very small but personal story that may give insight into how he touched my life in a very deep and meaningful way.
I was five years old when my dad gave me my first real chore. This wasn’t like picking up my toys or cleaning my room; he wanted me to help him with yard work. To me, this was real grown up stuff and to be frank I was very unsure about it. But he showed no concern and confidently led me outside.
We had this rubber tree that was taller than the roof of our house in Whittier California in 1975 which was impressive to a boy of my size even though our house was only one-story tall. I remember that you had to walk into the tree to get under the canopy but once inside there was a lot of room to move around. That said, the fallen leaves covered the ground and came up to my knees which again would only be impressive to a small child. He gave me a trash bag, asked me to pickup all the leaves and abruptly left me there alone. I spent a few minutes looking at all the leaves and realizing this job was way beyond my ability; I was utterly overwhelmed. I ran to my dad crying. He was concerned and asked what was wrong, I’m sure he was thinking I somehow hurt myself or was stung by a bee which wasn’t uncommon back when we had so many orange groves in So-Cal. But I told him the job was way too big for me, it simply wasn’t possible for me to take on such a humongous task.
What I remember most about that moment is how patient he was with me; he simply didn’t have the impatient urge to scolded me or raise his voice in frustration. If he did, he didn’t show it. He simply guided me back under the canopy and asked me to pick up one leaf. Once I did, he instructed me to put it in the bag which I did. He stayed there coaching me long enough until I could see the ground under my feet. Then he said, “See Damon, it’s just that simple. Don’t look at all the work ahead, only focus on picking up each leaf and putting it in the bag.”
Clearly for me, this was a profound and life altering epiphany. Needless to say I knocked that job out quickly and was eager to take on harder stuff. Within a year I was helping him in the garage by grabbing sheets of wood off the backside of a table saw as my dad made his first test cabinets.
Whether he intended the life lesson or simply wanted some help working in the yard, he set me on a path that day of taking on hard tasks, not giving up and knowing that with enough perseverance, you can accomplish difficult but meaningful things.
This was a very small facet of my father and I assure you he was a very complex person. Yes he was a musician and an engineer, but he was also a poet, a painter, a song writer, a good friend, an amazing father, a dutiful son and a loving husband. He drank deeply from the cup of life and I was lucky enough to be present through most of it.
Our family chooses to remember his life with happiness, laughter and joy because that was how we lived it with him. If you’re still reading this post, thank you. That means a great deal to me. And if you would like to participate in a small celebration of his life here in this post, I ask you to share a memory of him, a picture, a story or even a photo of a system you owned with a pair of his speakers in it. Whatever you like, it would mean a great deal to our family. Thank you all and God bless.