Sunday, November 02, 2014

Four score...

My dad would have been 80 today. He died just over 5 years ago, and ever since then I haven't quite known what the most appropriate way to mark November 2nd might be. Do you celebrate? Mourn? Something in between?

I'm pretty sure there's no one, universal answer for this question just as there's no one, universal answer for any other question revolving around losses like this. You do what makes sense to you, what feels right, what helps you move forward. And in the process you learn to ignore those who seem to have no problem spontaneously disagreeing with your choices.

It's been an interesting journey since we lost him. I've learned at a profound level just how important it is to hold on to those who are most important to you. My understanding of the word "family" has undergone a fairly radical re-think since then. Whereas it was once very much tied to the family tree, it's evolved significantly in the years since.

I've learned to hold on ever tighter to my immediate family, my wife, our kids, the friends in our community who may as well be family. I've learned to gravitate toward the good souls, wherever they may be, who reflect our values, and I've learned to listen to that inner voice instead of the voices of others. I'd like to think that I've grown as a person, which is more or less what any parent wants for a child.

Maybe my own brush with fate changed the way I look at things. Maybe I simply wanted to make the best use of the limited time I've got - indeed, that we've all got - on this planet. For all the challenges he faced in the last few years of his life, my father was adept at finding the good in a moment, at enjoying something for what it was, and boiling it down to its most elemental form. It's a decent trait to carry forward, so that's what I've been trying to do.

Eighty years to the day since his journey began, and just over five years after it ended, I hope I've figured out how internalize and exemplify the best that was him. I'm guessing it's what he would have wanted, and I'm guessing it's what we always hope to teach our own children so that they, too, will grow something inspirational from the seeds we've been planting all along.

Looks like I had some pretty good seeds to start with. Thanks Dad.

5 comments:

Thumper said...

My mom's birthday would have been yesterday. There really wasn't anything profound about it...for me those days have become less about mourning and missing and more about being grateful. I kept thinking she was probably having a great time where she is...and making my dad do things he didn't want to do. That mental image is priceless :)

Michèle Dextras & Jean-Claude Barre said...

The first anniversary of my mother's death is coming up in early December and my sister is planning a get together of the family. At first I was reluctant to agree to this, it seemed I don't know weird. But as you mentioned, family is important and connecting with them is important. So I see this gathering as another time we can be together as a family, small as it is. The more reasons we have to meet and enjoy each other's company the better and my mother will be there in spirit but also because we are all who we are in part because of her influence on us.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

With all the loss I have had, I did mourn in the beginning.. as years go by, I took each loss as a learning experience.. I remembered what those relationships taught me.. what was passed on to me.. My kids would go to the cemetery to visit their Dad's 'wall' where his plaque is.. now, they don't.. I haven't visited in years, mainly because he is not there, just a plaque.. For us, a cemetery is just a symbol.. We carry our memories of him and others in our hearts..

kenju said...

I think Thumper is right; you reflect on how you miss them, remember the good times and be grateful for them.

Michael Manning said...

Carmi: I'm very sorry about your father's passing. Having lost my Dad December 22nd almost 14 years ago, it's still difficult for me. But your point about holding loved ones close is very important and sounds like you are honoring your father by doing so!