We're born. We live. We die.
That's how I'm told it's supposed to work. The cycle of life.
My father was born July 14, 1942. He died October 15, 2010. And, in between, he lived.
Now, I wasn't there for THE BEGINNING - he did have to get grown up and married and stuff before I came along, didn't he?
But I witnessed over 40 years of THE MIDDLE. And I'm grateful. I'm grateful to have known this man who really lived a life. Every image I have of my father is an active image. He worked hard. He played hard. He loved life, and it showed.
I remember many a time, as a child, waking up in the middle of the night to find him with work spread out all around him with some Coltrane or Miles Davis playing in the background. My father (whose father was a jazz musician) loved jazz. And soul, and funk, and classical, and rock. He just loved music. But, as with all things, he was not indiscriminate in his love. It had to be good music. Something to stimulate the mind and soul.
I will never forget the last time I saw my father dance. It was at my brother's wedding in Hawaii just two years ago. The man danced all night! With all the ladies. And, as with everything he did, he looked good doing it.
Yes, my father was a handsome and stylish man. He was super smart. And charming. All my life I was convinced he could do anything he set his mind to. And I have seen nothing to disabuse me of that notion. He was not as funny as he thought he was, but my father never ceased to entertain. He was bitingly sarcastic, opinionated, stubborn. No, really, this is all good stuff.
My father taught me to be curious. To want to know why things are, and how things work. He taught me to love the notion of a project. I find that I can turn the simplest task into a full-blown project without much effort. Thanks, Dad.
My father taught me to "work smart, not hard." "Finish what you start" - okay, I didn't really internalize that one. "Pick your battles." And he taught me way more about mathematics than I ever wanted to know.
I am so thankful to have been a witness to, at least part of, my father's living.
And I'm grateful for being there at THE END. My father had been suffering the assault of cancer for a few months. He was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in August, and while we continued to hope and do the things they say you should do - vitality-sapping chemotherapy - we knew in September that he was not going to conquer this particular foe. So, I spent a month with him in Utah during the time that he was still having "good" days. I said "good-bye" to him then, while we could both still appreciate what was going on. Then I, necessarily, returned to Atlanta.
When I returned to Utah, there had been no good days for a few weeks. I entered the house to find him at the very end. It was almost as if he were waiting for me. I held his hand. I thanked God, then asked Him to release Dad from suffering. And I watched my father as he appeared to recede into his body, then release from it.
Dad, thank you for all the love. We'll miss you. Rest easy.