My father passed away this morning. He was terminally ill with two, glioblastoma brain tumors. His health started to fail very quickly as we got the diagnosis only six months ago.
While my heart is broken and my family grieves, I can only express the things for which I am so grateful for. He was such a wonderful father and I know how lucky I am to have been his son.
These are three things for which I am eternally grateful.
1. Even though he was unloved, he loved me so dearly
My father was an orphan. He was abandoned by his parents as an infant and left to be cared for by the state of Florida. His life was very hard. He endured so much physical, sexual and verbal abuse. He was bounced around, quite literally, over 100 homes in his time as a child. He had no one to love him or guide him.
And yet, despite it all, he was an amazing father. He loved us all so much. He always struggled with the pain of his life, but rarely ever let it touch us. He protected us from the harshness of the world that he experienced.
He could have easily given to despair, anger or drug abuse, but he didn’t. Instead he chose to love us.
As an adult his mother came back into his life. After 35 years of being absent, she needed him, as her health was failing and she had no one.
He chose not to reject her, as she had done to him, but rather, embraced her and cared for her in her final days.
Truly an example of compassion and forgiveness that I will never forget.
2. He taught me to be strong and self-sufficeint
A result of his difficult upbringing was his fierce independence. He always seemed as though he could do anything and he truly lived a remarkable life.
He brought himself out of terrible poverty and abuse to break the cycle of pain. He was so strong, even to the end.
He had a spirit of empowerment, never feeling he had to wait for permission or rely on others. He passed this on to us and for that I’m very grateful.
3. He taught me what was truly important in life
He was an old soul, with a love of philosophy and theology. He and I would have deep conversations about the nature of life and the human experience. These conversations gave me a broad perspective on the world and about people.
Through his wisdom I know what a truly succesful life looks like. It’s not about accumulating wealth or being validated through social status.
A life well lived, like his was, is a life that is centered on family, with compassion for others and a connection to God.
This was the life he chose and his final days of existence bare testament to how truly well he lived.
His final days were filled with love from hundreds of people. He was a pastor and he walked with so many through their times of trial.
People I’d never met would lay at his bedside and sob. They were losing someone so dear to them as well.
His life impacted so many. And the impact was deep and profound.
I’m so grateful to have been this man’s son. I love him forever. I feel the responsibility to live a life worthy of his legacy. I’ll do my best. I’m so sad that I’ll never see him again but I’m also filled with a spirit of gratefulness.
I love you Dad, and we’re all going to miss you very much.