“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
This quote reflects in a few perfect words all that I have been feeling. I have felt great sorrow in losing dad. It was too soon – he had a lot of life left to live. It was a tough year, watching him go from a robust, healthy man to a cancer patient struggling to make it. In this sorrow, however, has come profound joy and gratefulness. I have felt so lucky to be his daughter and to have been loved by him my entire life. It hit me like a thunderbolt on the way to the hospital that last day. I was so very fortunate and felt truly blessed. How can I feel sorrow in the face of all that good luck?
As an educator and a people person, dad taught me many lessons, one of which was to treat people as if you’ll never see them again – that way, you don’t forget to be kind. I learned that lesson when I was about 10 years old and our dog, Murphy, died. I felt guilty because I had lied to stay home sick from school that day. I thought Murphy’s death was my punishment for being a liar. Dad’s lesson to me was one that has stuck with me. He reassured me that I didn’t cause Murphy’s death and told me that we should always be kind to people when we see them, because we never know when it will be the last time. Because of this philosophy, dad had a gift for making people feel special.
Dad was the king of giving nicknames. To him, I was his Erin Lynn, Bonks, and later on, Madame Executive. To me, he was Dad, papa-san, and the Big Guy. He never failed to greet people warmly, with his great low voice asking how the pride of Cle Elum, or Woodway High School, or wherever was. His memory of the little details of people’s lives was legendary. It was one of his many gifts.
Watching him live his life, it was clear that it was never about words alone for him – it was about actions. The adage that actions speak louder than words was evident in everything he did. As kids, we saw him take the high road on many occasions, we saw him give the gift of himself to people from every walk of life, and we saw him living true to his word. He was who he was and we never doubted that what we saw was the real thing.
Another thing dad taught by doing was how to be a good partner. His love and admiration for our mom was a wonderful thing to behold. I’ve heard the saying that the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother, and he did just that. The two of them were a true partnership and they set the standard for all of us.
I hope to take what I learned from dad to heart even more so now. Hearing from so many people who were touched by dad’s kindness only reinforces for me that life is really about the connections you make with people, not about things or success or money. I want to become the type of person my dad has been and leave a legacy like his. If I can do that, I will have lived a successful life.
Thank you, dad, for taking the time to teach me so much by the way you lived your life. I am so proud to be your daughter. It has been an amazing adventure and I enjoyed every minute of it.