Hi and Happy New Year everyone!
I hope the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 has treated you well.
My apologies again for the looooong pause in blogging. This Fall was not quite what I had expected.
I’m very sorry to report that, at the very end of October my dad passed away.
Now, when speaking of a 95 year old one can never, with a straight face, say that this was a “total surprise” but it did catch me a bit off guard. When both of your parents, like energizer bunnies, just keep going and going one can get a bit complacent I suppose.
In any case, we, as a family, had the best possible version of this scenario that anyone can hope for.
We all got to be with him for many days. He was, although weak, very, very present – making his own decisions (and jokes) the entire time. We laughed a lot. He got to say very nice things to us and we, in turn got to truly express how much we loved and appreciated him.
But somehow, despite all the positives, it stopped me cold in my blog-tracks. Dad really enjoyed the blog – and especially reading all of your comments – and I somehow couldn’t quite figure out what to say…..but I think I have now.
As you all know my dad was an excellent craftsman. All the pictures I’m sharing here today are of his work.
When my folks moved to their retirement community he immediately established a woodworking shop on the premises.
He did projects for himself, took on repair work for other residents and built things for the community. So all of what you are seeing is work done by a man in his 80s and 90s.
And that seems to me to be the ongoing lesson my dad was quietly teaching all of us.
Dad was the definition of a life-long learner-the kid who took the radio apart to see how it worked, built model airplanes and, later in life took apart his computer and put it back together again.
He (and my mom) enrolled in Life-Long-Learner classes on everything from The History of Film to Biblical Studies. He was a voracious reader and the only male member of the local book club. When he took on the role of Community Accountant for the retirement community he taught himself, in his 80s, how to use Quickbooks.
Conversations with him were always fascinating and the subjects wide-ranging. He listened just as well as he talked, was open to new ideas and even when his views differed greatly he treated everyone with respect.
As is often the case in these situations, you learn a lot from the stories other people tell.
At his memorial service the minister related how she’d visited him in hospice and, in the course of their conversation she had asked him how he felt about this coming transition.
My dad paused, thinking for a moment, and then simply said:
I think that one answer sums up him and the many valuable lessons he taught all of us over the years. Be curious. Keep trying. Have an active mind. Always be engaged.
I’m going to try my best to live up to his example.