February 26, 2014

Last month, the thirteenth anniversary of my father’s death came and went. Instead of lamenting his loss every day like I have for thirteen years, I would like to celebrate the memory of a man who has always and will forever impact my life.

Let me first talk about his nickname and the title of this post. “The Old Man” came from a movie, and the man who was narrating would call his father that, like he was an entity and not a person. That’s kind of how I saw my father for much of life. When I got over that, I was able to really get to know him. But of course the nickname stuck, and he didn’t mind. He just rolled with it naturally, like he did everything else in life.

That’s the kind of teacher he was too. He taught through his example within the moment. Two of the greatest lessons I ever learned in my life, he taught me by example:  unconditional love and perseverance.

Through one disagreement we had in my life where of course he was right, he taught me real love. Again, he was right, and when my heart shattered over hell, he was there for me. Not one word of reproach, only words of comfort. When you are there for someone even if you don’t agree with what they’re doing in the first place, that is real love.

His other great lesson was perseverance. When he was ill with emphysema, he was in and out of the hospital. One day, I was visiting him, and he wanted to take a walk. Walking was an effort for him at this stage. It literally took his breath away. I remember watching him get up. I knew better than to offer him help. With deliberation, effort, and pride, he stood up straight and walked to the other room we were going to.

In that moment, he instilled even greater admiration within me. He had every reason to walk hunched over. He couldn’t breathe without an oxygen tank. That would bow anyone. Not him. He made sure that he walked with the same confidence as when he was well. When he had every reason to be broken, that’s when he became stronger. Thankfully, he passed that on to me.

I still carry those lessons with me to this day. For that reason and many others, he is always with me.

Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…