Today marks one year since my father passed away. He went so peacefully that honestly, at first, we didn’t even realize he was gone. If anyone had ever earned a peaceful passing it was him. A man who worked non-stop from the moment someone let him start. He worked a host of jobs as a teenager and young man to help support his family after his own father passed away, and took on many responsibilities in the house as his mother faltered under the weight of her own battle with cancer. He then went on to own and operate a company that at one point employed over 100 people. A company that still persists to this day in a much reduced form, but that managed to weather even the depths of the recession. He got up early to work and stayed up late to work. He would leave his chemotherapy appointments and go out and go to work. Most of us work to live. My father lived to work.
He worked for good reason, because he worked to provide for all of us. Not just my mother and brother and I. But his family, his friends, co-workers, employees and acquaintances. He worked to provide ease of living and peace of mind. He wanted to know that if he decided he needed to get up and go to Wal-Mart at 6 am and buy a third pair of work boots that it wouldn’t be a problem. Or that at the end of the year when it was time for a little extra cash in the envelopes for his people he didn’t have to check the company’s cash flow.
This is one of the most important lessons he ever taught me. It has taken me a while to learn, but I have learned it whole-heartedly. And that is because my father never taught by telling, but simply by doing and by being.
Only, I wish he were here to continue teaching me. And that’s the problem. I miss him. I miss him in a way that is so frustrating that it borders on anger and then that makes me feel more upset because it feels petty and cheap. One of the best things someone said to me after he passed away is that one shouldn’t mourn a life well lived. And if his life wasn’t well lived than no one’s is. And I don’t mourn him. I simply miss him. I miss that he won’t be here to continue celebrating life with us. That he won’t be here to see my baby girl when she comes into this world and he won’t be able to cherish her the way I know he would.
But missing him is perhaps the best honor I can bestow upon him. It means I haven’t forgotten him or what he tried to teach me. And so when I do miss him, I remind myself to be like him. And that he is in a better place, somewhere where, as I told my mother, “He can finally work 7 days a week without anyone bothering him.”
Rest well, dad.