There is no death. Only a change of worlds. Native American Proverb
After many turbulent years of physical suffering and emotional distress, my dad finally bid farewell to this world on August 15th. Summer’s end brought with it the gentle calm that settles in after a long thunderstorm. These are the words I shared with those friends and family who joined us to remember my dad exactly one month after he passed away.
Things you probably know about my dad….
He loved his work, he was ambitious and headstrong, he had a wonderful sense of humor, a powerful voice, he hated to lose, he adored his family.
Things you might not know about my dad…
My dad loved Rhythm and Blues, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Marvin Gaye…. His favorite artists were Renoir, Miro, Botero, Modigliani and Zuñiga. He collected all kinds of things, from stamps and coins to artwork, masks, yokes, canes, and keychains. He loved all sports – baseball, American football, soccer, golf, tennis, formula one racing, but he was most passionate about basketball. He would walk into a high school or college gymnasium, and he’d step back in time, hearing the crowd go wild as he dribbled down the court and sunk a three pointer. He was most at peace sitting outside on the front step in the dark, talking to his dogs. His grandchildren were his pride and joy. He loved action films and always watched them with the volume way up to maximize the experience. He could go anywhere in the world and make friends with the waiter, the concierge, and the maintenance man. He was a master griller. He played a mean game of foosball. He was a handyman and could fix just about anything that was broken around the house. His loved the story of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, so much so that he dedicated a whole room to them in his home. He was afraid of almost nothing: he once climbed a ladder that rested on a chair that sat on a table, which sat on bigger table, just to hang something high up on the wall. When I was a little girl, he was larger than life, and undoubtedly the most handsome man in the world. He was a wonderful dancer, even though he heard a different beat than the one I heard. But if I could just forget the music and let him lead, it was almost magical. My favorite memory of my dad is going fishing with him when I was a teenager. We sat on the logs that lined the edges of the Willamette River in Oregon, the sun not yet risen, and we said nothing. But nothing was everything. My dad had a tattoo of a dove, which he got when he was 55. And, coincidentally (or not), he died on August 15th, which in Spain celebrates the Virgen de la Paloma, or the Virgen of the Dove.
When the time came, my dad was ready to go. He had lived a full life, and he was ready to move on. I will always cherish the fact that, in the end, we had some time together, and we were able to say goodbye. That he knew it was his time and he embraced it has given me a lot of peace. I’d like to close with the poem, Looking for the Sunrise, by Albert Simpson Reitz
I’m not looking for the sunset,
As the swift years come and go;
I am looking for the sunrise,
And the golden morning glow,
Where the light of heaven’s glory
Will break forth upon my sight,
In the land that knows no sunset,
Nor the darkness of the night.
I’m not going down the pathway
Toward the setting of the sun,
Where the shadows ever deepen
When the day at last is done;
I am walking up the hillside
Where the sunshine lights the way,
To the glory of the sunrise
Of God’s never-ending day.
I’m not going down, but upward,
And the path is never dim,
For the day grows ever brighter
As I journey on with Him.
So my eyes are on the hilltops,
Waiting for the sun to rise,
Waiting for His invitation
To the home beyond the skies.