Monday, July 23, 2018

A tribute to my father, a successful man

My dad died July 6, 2018. I've had a hard time writing this tribute. I'm still processing. It's so surreal.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may recall that I wrote a rather scathing piece about the abuse I suffered at my dad's hands. I've taken the post down. It's not really relevant anymore. I am still an advocate for children and ending violence, so if you'd like to read the post, email me and I'll send you a copy.

I'm not here to talk about fluffy forgiveness stuff. But, I suppose I did forgive him. I spent many years not talking to my dad, at some point I didn't feel angry anymore. Afterall, I lived with my dad for 18 years. I've been responsible for myself for 40 years.

Well meaning people have said the usual about God, like my dad's with God or God has his plan or whatever. I find these words unhelpful, insincere and utterly unconvincing. We all recognize the loss of a loved one as devastatingly painful, and we just don't have the words for an occasion like this.

What's important is the now. I believe in Now. And right now, I feel grateful that I spent spent Father's Day 2018 with my dad. I hadn't seen him in about 15 years. That day I experienced a lot of love. My dad was a different man, divorce from my mother suited him well and his "new" wife (of 40 years) doted on him. They both expressed their gratitude for each other, as we sat on their porch overlooking their beautiful yard. The love was tangible. Dad told me he was happy, and at peace. He had everything he ever wanted, but his health had been poor for sometime and he was ready to go.

Dad told me I was pretty, and that he was proud of me. I had longed to hear this my whole life. I am tempted to say better late than never. But as a believer of the Now, I think we should change a lot of our languaging. If we believe only in the Now, then everything happens right on time. His words certainly were right on time for me, as I have been facing a difficult time.  I just need to say that again.  His words came right on time.

My brother and my dad sat and talked like buddies. My brother, who suffered the loss of his long-time partner this year, commented how much he enjoyed the camaraderie with my dad. He said he had forgotten to share his adult life with my dad. And he couldn't wait to see him again.

It was a short time after that we were standing in the hospital room saying our goodbyes to my dad, as plans were being made to take him off life support machines. I am grateful that we made our peace with each other and that he died a happy man. I won't bore you with a lecture on making peace with a loved one before they pass. But suffice it to say that once your loved one is gone, they don't need your forgiveness.

My dad was a wise man. He had the ability to drop a pearl of wisdom that would change your life. And he has taught me profound lessons in his passing. 

Have you ever considered what success is? We all know the accumulation of wealth is far too narrow of a definition.  My dad taught me by example, that the measure of a successful man is whether he dies grateful, happy and loved. Against all odds, my dad was all these things. That makes him a successful man. If I were to die tomorrow, I could not say the same.

Forget the flowery concept of forgiveness, forget all the other spiritual gobbilty gook.  Are you grateful? Are you happy and surrounded by love? These are the only things that matter.

Thanks Dad for the many lessons. Sorry this tribute is so lame. I'm sure I will be writing about my dad again, as I am thinking of his words often.

George William
8/7/39 - 7/6/18

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