My father, Gordon Sparks, and me at age 7.

My father was a blue-collar worker who always wanted to be a game warden.

Instead, to feed, clothe and shelter me and my siblings, he’d descend into the belly of naval ships and tend to their inner workings to keep them humming along. He always had a desire to own a business and started painting homes for friends, bowling buddies and contacts.

When my mother became pregnant, carrying me, he eventually had to fold the business and take up work at the Navy Yard.

It wasn’t easy for him, but he did it because we needed steady income. So instead of being outdoors he spent eight hours a day in darkness.

I wish I could go back in time and share with my dad the tools and techniques to make a business really fly. Maybe then he wouldn’t have had to work in the belly of those ships. Maybe he wouldn’t have had to work with asbestos insulated pipes and the cancer in his lungs wouldn’t have metastasized and grown so rapidly. And maybe, just maybe I would have had more time with him. That’s why I do what I do.

Small business marketing isn’t just a passion for me. It’s a hope that families can stay in tact just a little while longer and savor the things that elude us: time.

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