Today would be my father’s 69th birthday. Each year since he passed, I normally write something inspired by him around the anniversary of his passing, Father’s Day and/or his birthday.
This year, I decided to revisit a post I wrote a year ago. For one, I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to write something new about him. I know there’s more to say and more stories to tell.
However, since last year, a lot has happened for me, my family and the rest of the world. I thought that many of my sentiments shared last year would still be applicable (and maybe more so) now.
I’m leaving the original post up on the website and have changed some minor details to the article below.
A strange thing happened when my Dad passed away.
For the first time in my life, I looked at the age he was when we lost him (59) and the age I was at the time (35) and started to count down the years.
It was unfair and probably unreasonable for me to do so.
The likelihood that I will pass from the same cancer that took my Dad from us is not likely.
I started to look at my life from the viewpoint of: What if my days are numbered more so than I realize? What if I only make it to 59? What am I going to do with my life for the next 24 years?
And now, the gap has closed and I still think about it. I’ll be 45 this year, Dad would be 69 today.
What am I going to do with my life for the next 14 years?
Some people take the viewpoint that they are going to experience all of the joys, the thrills, the excitement that life can offer.
I feel like I got enough of those thrills in my 20’s (otherwise known as my ‘lost decade’.)
And, for me, it’s how I am going to inspire enough people to change their lives with the time I have left? Whether it’s 5 years, 15 years or 42.5 years…
I watch people spin their wheels, agonizingly accomplishing nothing with their health, their lives, and their ambitions. It’s like they’re tied ball-and-chain to a past they can’t let go of and they keep forgetting that the key to unchain themselves is within arm’s reach.
Literally within sight.
Literally within grasp.
But, they don’t take it. They just stay with the familiar.
No matter how painful or depressing it is.
I have struggled for nearly ten years since my father passed to write this.
Every time I feel like I’m ready, I tell myself “No, not yet. It’s not time. You’re not ready.”
But then come back to that same series of questions ultimately ending with “If not now, when?”
And it’s the question I pose to you.
To me, I don’t care what you need to change. I care THAT you change. You don’t have to be a client of mine. You just have to make that decision.
I think if you have been fortunate enough to have lived longer on this earth than my father did, you were given a gift. A gift that every day you get another breath. Are you wasting it?
I think that if you are nowhere near the age he was when he passed, you have the same gift. Every day, you get another breath. Are you wasting it?
I have struggled to write this because I didn’t know how it all would be interpreted. I have struggled with a lot of other things too: self doubt, moral failings, poor decisions, the seemingly endless cycle of not knowing how to fill the shoes he left behind.
After my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, we were given nine months left with him. Nine months where I saw some of the most beautiful and poignant sides of him and nine months where I saw a man who was the pinnacle of strength and poise in my life be reduced to a shell of himself by a miserable disease. And if you haven’t heard the sentiment…fuck cancer.
I don’t take a lot of moments to stand on a soapbox and beg more from you.
I’m doing it now.
Because if you won’t ask better of yourself, who will?
And if you’re waiting for the perfect time to do better, stop waiting.
The picture you see below is among my most treasured. If you are reading this and you recognize this picture, it’s because it was at my father’s calling hours.
Dad was admitted into the hospital shortly after Valentine’s Day 2011. He would remain in the hospital for almost one month to the day. My mother and I would go to see him every day. Every chance we got, we would bring Jackson with us. Jackson had just turned three and it was around this time that he received his official diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum.
Jackson didn’t mind being in the hospital room with my Dad. But he didn’t want to be near the hospital bed. It broke my heart because I knew how much it would mean to my Dad to be close to his grandson. My father loved being an Opa. Seeing him fulfill that role were some of the best times of my life. Not surprisingly, he was as great of a grandfather as he was a father.
The doctors released my father to come home and have his remaining days with us. On Sunday, March 20 Jackson was at the house with us. Dad was resting in the bed. Jackson went into the bedroom and climbed into the bed next to my father. That’s when I took this picture. It’s one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking things I own.
Dad passed away on Wednesday, March 23.
When I ask you what you will do with the time you have left, I don’t mean to browbeat.
I just want you to look at the gift you’re given, the life you’re given, and I want you do better.
I don’t want you to waste any more time.