WORDS FOR THE DEATH OF MY FATHER
It is with a deep breath that I stand before you in an effort to comprehend
the enigma that is my father. I did not know him well. I love him deeply.
What remains now, in the wake of the time he spent among us, is a gap.
With what are we, the living, to fill that gap? Certainly with grief and
I thank all of you for coming here today to share in that grief.
My Dad was scared and my Dad was lonely. He was scared of being rejected
by those whom he loved or respected so he postured himself for acceptance;
thus he was lonely because his true self got left out in the process.
My father could not bridge the gap carved out by his fear — and
filled with his loneliness — by honestly living true to the demands
of his heart. Facing the threat of rejection was too much. So he missed
out on a lot of love. And we missed out on him.
As his son, I have learned that no risk can be too great to take if
the alternative means being stuck and enmired in cowardice that kills me.
I have learned that doing my best to tell the truth, to be honest, counts
most when I face myself, and then make myself face out. I recognize that
it is important to favor myself, but neither too much nor too little.
I have learned that all faces are masks and that men and women tend
to abuse power rather than expose their human vulnerability. Thus, I believe
that a cool mind, warm heart, brave spirit and true tongue are the ingredients
necessary for a healthy life and a better world.
As my Dad got sick and approached his final days and then, his final
hours, all of us camped out with him at the hospice on Diamond Street. Someone
was always with him, holding his hand, practically counting his laboring
breaths. As my father approached death, we, the living, grew closer forging
As I see it, my father's legacy is us, his family. We have the internal
wherewithal to learn how to be more honest with ourselves and with one another,
the result being acceptance, compassion and empathy. The kindness, candor,
gentleness and warmth that we can share does not arise out of a vacuum.
It is part of our human spirit that God and Dad passed on to us.
I close with words of a Native American:
Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our
spirit feeds upon it. We must have it because without it we become
weak and faint. Without love our self- esteem weakens. Without it our courage
fails. Without love we can no longer look out confidently at the world.
We turn inward and begin to feed upon our own personalities, and little
by little we destroy ourselves. With it we are creative. With it we march
tirelessly. With it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.
Thank you for loving my father while he was alive and joining us today
to pay tribute to him now that he has passed on.