These last few weeks that I've been away I've been doing the most difficult, love filled and amazing thing I could ever imagine.
I've been helping my Dad die well.
He passed on...(what a perfect term)...on April 11. His seventy second birthday was on April 10th.
He had been diagnosed with lung cancer early last year, had been given a prognosis of just a few months to live, had decided to try chemo anyway. And he had a wonderful year full of love, and life and happiness and productivity. Untill about three weeks before he died he was working on his newest project almost every day...his Model T Hot Rod that he designed and build from scratch. When he got to weak to continue the work, he was admitted to the hospital and his friends finished it, doing the final body work and the paint job and promising my sisters and I that "the T would win it's first race". The doctors said Dad had just days to live, as his lungs were no longer functioning, and these friends worked around the clock to get the T ready. Then they loaded it onto a flatbed, hauled it to the hospital and we brought my Dad from his room in a wheelchair to see the finished work.
He stood up and walked around the car, had them put his oxygen tank in the back and he got into the truck and drove it away! He even squealed the tires leaving the ambulance bay! He got to fulfill his dream. A dear friend had called the local news paper, and his picture appeared on the front page of the next weekly addition, along with a little story. It was a miracle, and it meant more to me, and to my family, than I can say.
I was able to stay with my Dad as he returned home for a week after that. He had company flood in to see him, and grown men cried as they told him they loved him, and that it was an honour being counted as his friend.
I took night shifts and sat with him through the difficult dark hours as he struggled to draw each breath, never once complaining or expressing fear. I held his hand, rubbed his back, wiped away my tears and talked to him about the special times we had shared as a family. He said, as more and more people drove for many hours, or flew accross the country to see him once more, "This is what it means to be rich".
Yes Dad, you were a rich man. Blessed in ways few men of money could comprehend. You lived life on your own terms. You lived fearlessly, sometimes recklessly, but always authentically. You never stopped to ask yourself who you wanted to be. You lived who you were and gave tirelessly of yourself to everyone who came to be a part of the ever widening circle you called family and friend. You were a creative genius, and a master craftsman. You will be missed more than I can ever say.
I love you Daddy