I thought about my father this evening. I think of him every now and again, but somehow this was not the same. He was a gentle man, and honorable man. He served his life as a clergyman, setting an example that most of us would be hard pressed to emulate. He died young, in his mid-fifties – too young. Too young to see and know his grandchildren. He would have been proud of each of them. Too young to watch his son grow into an adult. Too young to follow the successes and failures that we all experience. He believed with a strength of conviction that I could not follow, despite all the opportunities he provided to me to accept his view of life. If he was right and I am wrong, I imagine he’s smiling as I write this.
I think we all reach a time and place where we feel a need to remember and honor our parents. We find our own paths, and come to our own conclusions about the nature of life. My father knew before he passed away that he and I had found different answers. He accepted that, and never sought to call mine wrong. I believe he trusted that we all come to know truth in some way in our own time. I choose to believe that this is our one and only life to live, and that we have one chance to live it in a way that we can be proud at the end that we did our best to live true to our principles. He believed in something more, and trusted in a plan greater than what we can know in this life.
At this point in my adventure traveling south, I’ve paused for a moment to honor my parents. My mother had her own strengths and shared his beliefs, but it is my father that I mostly recall this evening in a quiet spot on a boat alone. I didn’t know it at the time I packed the boat for this trip, but must have unconsciously thought this time would come. He was a pipe smoker – perhaps his only ‘vice’. I packed his favorite – one of the few things I have of his. I filled it and lit it on the deck tonight and remembered the many time as a child I could smell the fragrance. I choose to think, right or wrong, that he noticed. If he did, then I’m mistaken, or perhaps we are both right, and this mystery of life is greater than we can imagine.
Among many other things, he gave me his heart – in many ways other than the physical that killed him. While it has been a challenge, it has also been a strength that has so far given me a quarter of a century more than he had. I’ve had time to watch my children grow and the beautiful grandchildren they have produced. It has been a remarkable gift. He missed that.
I offer these thoughts to my family, but mostly to remind other sons to take the time to honor their own parents, and especially fathers for lessons learned – however long it might take to learn them.
I also share this as a gift back to my dad.