I was 25 when my father died.
December 6th, he would have been 98.
My dad was 45 when I was born; my mom was 23 – a scandalous romance likely in the late 1950’s. Where I saw only the backside, the ending….I’m guessing the newness and the upside was awesome in its time.
My mom and dad divorced when I was one.
Not due to age, my mom said.
Divorce isn’t as simple as any one thing.
There were complicated issues. For all of my father’s virtues…there were equal challenges…as there are in each and every one of us. For all that was wondrous about him, there was a dark side that she witnessed and tolerated for as long as she could.
I thank her every day for leaving him.
But my mother’s generous spirit allowed me to retain a relationship with her ex-husband.
Although he wasn’t right for her, she somehow could see broadly enough, that he might mean something to me. And I might mean something to him.
My father was one of the greatest positive influencers in my life. My mom was right.
Despite his faults, from afar, what I gained from him, made me smart. It made me strong, confident. He spoke to me like a peer, like a boy. He taught me to read the Wall Street Journal and calculate stock cost basis in a small black notebook at the age of 10….and so, partly due to him, I became a stock broker at the tender age of 24 in a small town in Maine.
I became his dream. I measured up….because he believed I could.
When the press release of my status was published, my Dad was in the hospital. I brought him a copy of the newspaper there.
As I sat with him before surgery, then left him to go to my grown-up job, and returned to learn of his downturn and his move to intensive care and life support, I truly grew up. Alone, dealing with the crisis of my estranged father…what I learned for sure….
…is that sending everyone to Intensive Care, the ICU, in a hospital to sit for a while…or for hours….to watch and ponder…to reflect…with nothing but ourselves and time, and windowless spaces….
…to watch motorcycle accidents of wonderful men suddenly thrusting family members into tragedy, nana’s so loved surviving on life support, or young husbands in comas after car accidents due to snow….
..wakes up those of us witnessing…watching…remaining behind.
Tragedy is tragic. There is so much that is sad.
But there is the possibility of waking up those of us experiencing it, still with a chance. Maybe spending a little time here can actually benefit those of us on the outside.
Each day is a gift.
We don’t know when it’s all going to end.
So surely, we’d better make today a good one.
Photo: Scarborough Beach, Maine