I lost my dad last summer. He was 87 years old. That means he’d been old for a very long time. As soon as he passed away I began remembering him as a younger man. It became like his gift to me. I was grieving the father I’d just lost, but smiling at the father I will always remember.
His last few years were spent in an adult living facility. He had trouble walking due to diabetes. His mind wasn’t as sharp as it once was and he spent a lot of time just sitting. I think his only regret in life was growing old.
As a younger man he fished, hunted and golfed. He loved everyday, whether it was at his job as a policeman or the days he spent on the golf course in retirement. He went on month long fishing trips to Alaska and Canada with his best buddy and spent a week or two in the woods each fall deer and elk hunting. He was happily married to my mom for 64 years, a woman who understood his love and need for the outdoors.
I always felt sorry that he had to spend his 80’s sitting, getting old. He could no longer drive so I was the one taking him to doctor appointments. I went along to listen and remember what the doctor had to say. He hated going to the doctor; he didn’t want anyone to know he wasn’t feeling well. I don’t think there was even one time when he didn’t look me in the eye and say “don’t get old!.” I’d laugh and say I didn’t like the alternative.
Now I understand why he had to get old. In spending those years with him, driving him around, I got to know him better. We’d have to work at talking to one another. He learned how to thank me and to tell me he loved me. He learned how to give and receive hugs. If he wouldn’t have gotten so old, I would never have gotten to know the softer side of him.
He’ll always be a part of me of course. He was the one who taught me how to fish, how to ride a bike and the importance of integrity. His words were always “if you’re going to do a job, do it well.” I think he lived his life well and I think if he had to do it all over again he probably wouldn’t change a thing.
As sad as I am for his loss, I will continue to celebrate his life through my own. I’ll laugh when I do something just like he did. I’ll think of him when I look into the eyes of my son. I’ll continue to teach my children the values of fairness and honesty that he instilled in me. I’ll try not to have regrets for the questions I forgot to ask him or the things I wanted to tell him. Thanks for the memories dad!
Wishing a Happy Fathers Day to all the wonderful dads out there! Give yours a hug!