Archive for April, 2006

March 23, 2006

April 3, 2006 2 comments

On March 25 we held my father’s funeral services in Baltimore. Most of the family and his friends were able to make it to the services and the reception afterwards, and it was really a pretty nice experience.

My father was a simple guy. He was more comfortable in a blue blazer, gray flannels and loafers than wing tips and a suit. He helped me to memorize that a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrift, brave, clean and reverent. And that is just about how thought a man should be. A man of few words and was fond of saying, “A closed mouth gathers no feet.” I keep this in mind as I think about all the things I could say about my Dad, his accomplishments, his challenges, and the way he died.

My Dad taught me to value fundamental things like accountability, punctuality, frugality and good execution—that is, trying always to do things well. He taught me to always question and analyze, but not be paralyzed. He summed this up by quoting Abraham Lincoln, who said, “First be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”

My Dad wasn’t entirely with us in the last few years. There was a lot of speculation about the reasons that led to his problems. I don’t know why, but he was ravaged by alcohol and seemed to have no willingness to fight it. For a while I used to think he was raging against the darkness, as Dylan Thomas advised. I reread Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night a few times, and came to understand it better. But raging doesn’t explain how alcohol seemed to amplify his loneliness and despair. In the end, it only made him weaker.

It took percolation to get to where I am now. I do not want to dive again into his personal dark world. I’d rather concentrate on the aspects of his life that inspire and teach. For a while, I felt the need to talk about addiction, darkness and all of that, but Sandy helped me to see that this is not what other people want to hear. I can see now that there is very little meaning in despair and it makes for horrible conversation. So, in remembrance of him, I am working on some pages that include photos and other documents, including some fantastic photos he kept from his war days.

I had plenty of time to prepare for this experience and so I felt pretty comfortable, in an ironic way. My advice is to remember it is not too early to begin preparations. Most of us have a huge role to play in the drama of death. The more details out of the way in advance, the more you will be open to the experience, which is quite moving and powerful.

Thanks to all who have been so kind and caring to my father and to our family.

Categories: Death, Dying, Fathers