Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Went Right

After Dad went on ahead, I read some information about the process of dying.  One thing that I read said that most people die, and react to someone else’s death, in ways reflecting their "usual selves."  I think this was so true for Dad – trying to tie up loose ends, making sure everything was taken care of, sticking it out for as long as he possibly could.

It would be so easy now to look back at what wasn’t handled exactly right while he was sick – but, following Dad’s example, I want to look more at what happened that DID go right:

Things he said and did during that time that we will never forget: the opportunity to create and remember more priceless memories with him

Those who went out of their way to help and support us, many of whom were quite unexpected

Time we got to spend with Dad over those ten weeks, individually and as a group

The pictures we had taken together and the memories of those times

Bringing him home from the hospital – as much or more for us than for him

Letting him know that we would be ok and that he had done all of his “jobs” just right

Finding out that there were SO many people, WAY more than we knew about, who loved and respected him and who benefitted so much from having known him

Getting his cat Foster for him – a different goal than the ones that he had had on his Bucket List but one that brought him and the rest of us joy.  “This cat is the second best thing that’s happened to me since I got sick,” he said.  “The first is that my kids and grandkids are coming to visit a lot more often.”

Recognizing that what drew people to him wasn’t that he was FUN but that he was KIND to every person, even those who didn’t really deserve it and whom he would probably never see again.  That is his legacy – demonstrating the impact of kindness and how far-reaching it can be.

Getting to have a spectacular view of Dad through the eyes of so many others, many of whom we didn’t know well or maybe at all.  I always thought he was so popular because he was so much fun, but I know now that it was because he was kind and respectful to everyone who crossed his path.

Allowing time for the kids – and for us – to adjust a little bit to not having him at 100% capacity:  Allowing us to wade into the deep end instead of just being shoved into the water

Coming together as a family.  During those ten weeks, it seemed like we were all working so hard to provide what Dad needed, but, looking back, it seems much more like HE was working so hard to provide what WE needed – time with him for each of us, seeing with certainty that we can count on each other above everyone else, and perspective – cementing what is REALLY important in life.

The celebration of his life – undeniably the best “going on ahead” ceremony ever!

Thanks, Dad, for the time, memories, for your persistence especially in the home stretch, and for giving us perspective.

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