Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Father's Passing

My father died Oct. 18 2009. He was 97. In one sense, there is sadness in his passing, but for the most part my family, especially my sister and mother, were relieved of the burden of watching him suffer. He had a good life, a very good life. It was only in the last two years, and mostly in the three months leading to his death, that he lost his spirit to live and wasn't happy. I'm sure anyone would be more than satisfied with over 90 years of health and happiness.

I didn't fully appreciate my father until I was 45. At the time, he was 80. I remember the moment it hit me that I wasn't going to change his thinking and that I needed to accept him as he was. It was from then on that I began to see his positive qualities. There are those who would attribute his longevity to genetic factors. I'm sure that his biological machine did have an effect on his long life. But his emphasis on moderation in all things, watching his weight, daily exercise, positive thinking and most of all trying to improve himself each day were all influential on the quality and length of his life.

I had been preparing myself for the last six months to write this blog about the death of my father. My initial thoughts were that I would take the lead from Camus who started his novel, THE STRANGER: "my mother died today". However I have not written my blog for a number of months so this was not appropriate. Mostly though, the impetus for Camus' opening line and the point of view of his book was the expression of his existential philosophy. What Camus believed was that life had no ultimate meaning except for the enjoyment and awareness of the moment. Although, I cannot say that I know life's purpose I have not given up on the possibility that there is a bigger picture that I have not yet discovered.

There was a time in my life when my philosphical leanings were existential, when it seemed to me that life was basically absurd and that what was important was to make the best of it. Although my father was not a religious man and did not believe in God or in life after death he did have a spiritual side which sustained and nurtured him. It was his belief in the importance of self development and living each day with the goal of taking care of yourself and being kind to others, especially his wife and family that I believe was instrumental in creating the positive and productive life he lived.

There was meaning to my father's life. The existential philosophy would not apply to him. As his son, and as different as I have been in many of my thoughts and actions, I cannot deny the respect that he had from all those who came to know him and the success he had in navigating life's difficulties. This has impacted me greatly. It is really a gift I have been given. I want to thank my father for this gift. I would like to pass it down to my children, my family, my friends, and to any one else who is concerned about the dificult conditions we are facing in today's world.