A little over twenty four hours ago, the world lost a great man. I don't mean he was great in that he was famous, made millions, led people across the desert or anything like that. Nor did he fix or race cars, watch endless team sporting events or hunt grizzly bears with just a sharp stick and his wits. I just think he was a great example of the things so many men lack today, and that he did a good job teaching me how to be one by example.
Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning we both loved so much, my father quietly took his last breath and found the peace that had been so elusive these past few years.
For those unaware, my father was diagnosed with Chronic Obstuctive Pulmonary Disease around eight or nine years ago. Given its rapidly progressing state at the time, his initial prognosis was that he had a number of months or a couple of years left at best.
I remember hearing this same estimate so many times that after a while I decided that doctors must pull numbers out of a hat or decide on them with darts or something. Regardless of how or why (but with many thanks to my mother for her excelent care), he managed to continue on many years past their initial estimate. Long enough to see his granddaughter to her third birthday.
He lived long enough to teach me about compassion and that anyone can be forgiven (including yourself.)
Long enough to show me that art can be elegant and soft, wild and grotesque or anything in between.
He lived long enough to make me listen and wait.
Long enough to teach me that everything and everyone should be questioned.
And he lived long enough to show me how all of it can (and should be) be art.
None of that seems to matter today, because it just feels too damned short.
There's so much left to say, to appreciate, to love and to learn about about him. But today, all I have left are my memories, and the many words and pictures that he recorded throughout his life.
Yesterday morning he embarked on a new journey, and for that I am grateful as it is one that has freed him of the prison his disease and body had become. As much as I miss him, he is truly in a better place now.
Tomorrow, I start my own journey. Over the course of the next year, I will be getting to know him better though those same words and pictures. I invite you all to come along for the ride. Dad always had a way of making a road trip memorable, and I'm sure on this one he won't disappoint.