Twenty years ago, I moved away to L.A. shortly after my Pop was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He was 61. In short order it moved to his brain, so quickly that he (and we) didn’t make it through the (textbook) stages of death and dying.
Six months after I moved across the country, Dad passed away. I was with him when he and his diminished, pain-wracked body fought to part ways. It was excruciating to watch, to see and to feel. I was witness to a violent separation of body and soul.
It remains the most profound experience of my life. Although people may say child birth and becoming a parent is life’s most incredible moment, I contend it is not. When a child is born, we become MORE. We are “added to.” We have introduced someone new to the Universe.
When we bury a parent, we suddenly feel less, feel untethered.
We are that child again, who did or didn’t get what we hoped we’d get from that parent. We are the child who was still in the process of a lifelong vow… Perhaps to prove them wrong. To make them proud… To repay their sacrifices… To splurge on them…To show them you aren’t a child any longer… That you are an adult.
So, decades years later, I’m still working on those subconscious vows I made to and because of my Dad. Sometimes they’ve served me well; sometimes not so much.
None-the-less, I know he’s proud of me, I know that I’ve passed the best of Robert W Smith onto my own son, and that funerals are grossly overpriced (he was a mortician).
As the sun comes up on the anniversary of his passing, I’m celebrating the ways he shaped and colored my world:
- Art is worth slowing down to learn and make
- Photos are part of the legacy we leave
- Don’t rush the process when rolling coins
- If your best takes longer than others, stand firm. It’s YOUR best, not theirs.
- Enter the day slowly, preferably with soggy Corn Flakes
- End the day in solitude
- Burden no-one with pain or negativity that they aren’t equipped to handle
- Give someone your smile most especially when all they have is tears
- Honor someone’s privacy, guard the secrets given to you in confidence
- Always be the one still waving
- Appreciate clean bathrooms; it means someone takes pride in their job
- Coffee with friends isn’t about the coffee
- We are not the physical body we wear in this life; none-the-less while we are here, sometimes that’s hard to grasp
- Apologies are hard; sometimes they come on the wings of time instead of being wrapped in words
- Naps are good, especially the kind when you collapse exhausted diagonally across the bed
- Penmanship makes a statement
- Everyone deserves a matching pen and pencil set
- Keep your bed head private
- One day you’ll be glad you saved all of those TV guides
- Being at your child’s recital, game or special event, isn’t nearly as important as making sure they know you believe in them
- Have faith in the Cubbies, always say goodnight, and keep some emergency snacks on hand
And last but not least…
Sundays are made for donuts.