On Friday, May 18th, Dee and I piled into the car and headed down I-65 to Indianapolis so that we could attend the TechPoint Mira Awards banquet. Why would we do such a thing? Well, my late father was to be given the "Bridge Builder" award and the TechPoint folks wanted the family to be there to receive the award. They asked my mother to invite the family and to have someone say a few words on behalf of my father. My mom isn't a big fan of public speaking and asked me to give the speech. So that's how Dee and I got invited to the Mira Awards banquet.
Dee and I arrived in enough time to make a quick change into our formal clothes in the Embassy Suites next door. We then made our way over to the cocktail hour and met up with my dad's assistant, Maureen. Maureen got our table assignments for us and we shared some stories about my dad as we had a few drinks and waited for my mom, grandfather and aunt to arrive.
The ceremony was very nice. It was held in the Indiana Roof Ballroom and a couple of local television personalities did some lame bits to kill time before, during and after dinner. We sat at the Bitwise Solutions table as guests of the President and CEO. He and his wife (who I had met briefly at the wake and funeral) were very friendly and we had good conversation over a nice chicken kiev type dish.
Eventually, time came for the presentation of my dad's award. Dave Banner, President of the Board of Directors for TechPoint, gave a very wonderful, praise-filled speech about my father and his efforts (and successes) to get technology into Indiana schools that needed it. My mother and I were then called up to the stage to receive the award. It wasn't until we were halfway to the stage that I realized that everyone was standing. My mom and I were both caught off-guard by this display and we both had to take a second to compose ourselves before we could speak.
Mom thanked everyone for giving this award to my dad and told them that the money would go towards the David C. Ford Scholarship Fund for Indiana students interested in studying technology. She then passed the podium to me and I gave a little improvised speech about how much importance my father placed on the use of technology in our education system.
I told a story about how he bought a brand new TRS-80 when I was a kid. He sat down at the machine and taught himself BASIC and began writing a program that would quiz me on addition, subtraction and multiplication. When I started the program, it would ask me to enter my name, and every time I got a question right, it responded with, "Yes, very good, Jeff!" I was so excited that the computer knew my name that I would sit for hours and hours adding and subtracting and multiplying. Soon enough, I wanted to learn how it knew my name and dad taught me what he knew about BASIC and I was hooked. I told them that the little program my dad wrote for me was the reason I became interested in computers and why I work that industry today and that he believed that all children should have the same opportunity I had to fall in love with computers and technology.
After our moment, they handed out a few other awards and called it a night. We spent some time after talking to some folks who knew and loved my dad until we were the last folks left in the ballroom. Many people thanked us for being there and expressed their sorrow that my father had passed.
My dad never did the things he did to win awards. He was just trying to do what he thought was right. He wanted to give people the best opportunity to succeed. Had he still been alive, he and my mom would have gone to the banquet and I would have never known. He would have tucked the award into a box along with the rest of them and gone about his business. Of course, he handled things this way because he thought it was the right thing to do. It turned out that this was his last gift to us. His big surprise. He had been hiding all of those other people that loved him, too.