About twelve years ago, my mom died and I took a minute to record the fact. This past week, on June 25, my dad died. Mom’s death was very much expected after a several-months battle with cancer. Dad’s was very much unexpected. We had just spent time with him, and he led an active and healthy lifestyle. After trying to make sure we had personally notified all the people who we figured ought to know before we did a big social media announcement, I wrote a thing for Facebook. It says a lot of what needs saying about Dad, and rather than rewrite it or spend a lot more time trying to write something that’ll be inadequate anyway, I’ll paste below what I shared for people who Facebook-know me.
Hello, friends. I’m very sad to let you know that my dad died yesterday of a heart attack. This was unexpected given how well he took care of himself. I’ve spoken with many people yesterday and today — from loved ones who knew him well to vendors he dealt with just a few times a year — and the overwhelming theme people have volunteered has been what a good, kind man he was. Everybody has a story or ten about Dad, and most have stories about not only his kindness but his sense of humor, his wisdom, his generosity. I’ve got truckloads of fondly remembered stories myself and am lucky to’ve grown up under his care and to’ve seen or been a part, with my sister, of so many of those stories.
It was a real pleasure to watch Dad grow into a grandfather. I never saw anything light up his face more than a hug from one of his grandkids, and he was so very easy for the grandkids to love back.
He was a devoted husband to my mom for some 40 years, and when he remarried after her death, I got to see him live a beautiful late-life honeymoon. I’m so thankful for the happiness that [his wife] and her family brought him over his last decade or so, a decade during which he also (I think not coincidentally) developed a great sense of adventure and in which he went hot-air ballooning, jumped out of an airplane, traveled Europe, learned to play the guitar, rode roller coasters, became a fixture at the gym alongside his cherished crew of old fogeys, and a host of other things I would never have suspected were in his future. In other words, a life that had already been full and meaningful somehow flourished into an even more varied and full life.
His death was sudden, and it is cruel. We’re shattered. But he lived well and he died happy, and there’s some solace in reflecting on those circumstances.
We’ll be holding a service on Saturday, June 29, at 11am, with visitation starting at 10am. Church details are as follows: [redacted]
As for flowers and donations and such, the family has no particular preference. My personal feeling is that flowers die quickly but donations to good causes can increase the good and reduce the suffering in the world. While no one should feel pressed to do anything at all, those who would like to and are able might consider a few of the options that follow. Dad had donated to support cancer research in the past — and with good reason, as cancer took Mom from us and took a swipe at him a couple of years ago. I have a soft spot for Second Harvest and Heifer International (organizations that feed hungry people), and Dad has kindly donated to such organizations on my behalf in the past. He volunteered with a local school to help kids improve their reading skills, and while that work had no direct connection to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Dolly’s group is a wonderful organization promoting literacy for children, and I think Dad would approve of donations to support it. The church has been an important part of Dad’s life, and his current church (details above [but redacted in this post]) has been supportive through Mom’s death, Dad’s life with Sherley, and now Dad’s death; those inclined to donate to a church could do much worse than to donate to his church in his name.
This is a difficult and busy time, and while I may not be in a position or of a mind to respond to many comments here, it would be initially painful but ultimately a blessing to read any stories you may have that showcase Dad at his silliest, kindest, most stubborn, or whatever the case may be. If you’re inclined, drop a story in the comments, and when I’m in the right frame of mind and have a little more distance, I’ll read them with gratitude.