It’s only been two weeks since my father passed away, and he’s been in my thoughts a lot, but I’ve noticed something interesting and fantastic about my memories of him as of late.
Dad suffered from Dementia and PPA for about seven years. We watched him decline from a hard-working, smart and funny man into someone who needed constant care. During the last few years, my thoughts of him centered around his care and health. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I couldn’t really see past his current state and my memories of him earlier in my life had become clouded.
Over the past few weeks I’ve found memories of my dad regularly popping into my head, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with some random thought of him or I’ll think about him while doing some innocuous task. But few of these memories are of him as being sick. Instead they’ve been thoughts of him as a healthy, strong and vibrant man, not necessarily a young man, but a healthy and happy one.
Even small details have reverted to earlier times. As dad became less able to care for himself, he grew a goatee which reduced the amount of face that he, or later we needed to shave. But the image of him that’s been in my mind since lately sports only the bushy mustache that he wore for most of his adult life.
I’m not sure why my mind is working this way. My wife suggests that all of the stories that we’ve been sharing about him have reset my brain in some way and maybe she’s right. I’m also guessing that I’m subconsciously trying to concentrate on the good times, which were numerous.
I recently lost my father after a long illness. We managed to keep him home until the end. I wrote this to read at his memorial service.
My father was not a highly educated man, but he was a true student of the world. While my mother is the professional educator in the family, dad taught me the ways of the world.
Dad taught me:
- How to ride a two-wheeler and how to patch up the inevitable skinned knee.
- To always carry a pocketknife, it’s the most valuable tool you’ll ever have.
- How to shoot straight, both with a rifle and with my words.
- To respect authority, at least when they’re watching.
- How to fix a car that won’t start and how to fix the dent you made when you got frustrated and punched the hood.
- How to swing a hammer and how to colorfully express your feelings when you managed to smack your thumb with it.
- To never pay someone to do something that you can do yourself, or to at least give it a shot before you call in reinforcements.
- That a hard day’s work has a value of it’s own beyond any paycheck.
- To take pride in the things that you create, no matter how simple or imperfect they may be.
- That the best solution to a problem is usually the simplest one.
- How to slow down and enjoy a laugh and a beer with friends.
- If you’re quick to help others, others will help you when the need arises.
- To be serious when you need to be and a clown whenever you can be.
- Most importantly he taught me to care for my family above all else, to cherish time spent in the company of those that you love and care about.
- He taught me how to be a man and a father.
Like his father, my dad built things. He built most of the home that we spent a good part of our lives in and helped me build mine. But the most important things that he ever built were the relationships with his family and friends.