On Sunday, March 9, 2014, a few minutes past eight o’clock in the morning, my dad passed away.
I’d been visiting him until the Thursday before. Then, Sunday morning, I got the phone call from my mom. My husband and I packed up the girls and turned right around onto the road again, to make the trip back up to my parents’. My mom’s, now, I have to keep reminding myself to call it.
The week was a rush of activity, but, somehow, everything fell into place. We had a brief snowstorm the day before the wake, but it turned out okay: the day of the wake was sunny if cold, and the snow had been all but cleared from the roads. In the early hours of the morning of the funeral service, we rushed around, trying to get into kimono. My dad had requested we wear kimono to his funeral service. Not black ones, though, as tradition would dictate, but colorful green, purple, and red, to celebrate the brightness of his life. We made it in perfect time, though. The service was lovely, and we shared a lot of stories and happy memories at the breakfast following. I came back home that next Sunday, but, as we drove away down the street of the house where both my dad and my sister and I grew up, I knew it would never quite be the same.
My dad’s story was more complex and nuanced than I usually thought of it, growing up. He was an Army Sergeant in Vietnam. He was a world traveler. He had a long-distance relationship with a young woman who didn’t speak much English when they met…yet, they fell in love, he brought her to the US, and they had my sister and me. He worked at the local airport in customer service, and, even though he rarely ventured past the ops desk in that capacity, he met and touched the lives of so many people, all of whose stories I heard of him were full of laughter and mischief and kindness.
When thinking on the story of my dad’s life, how grand and how simple it was at the same time, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to capture that in my own stories. But, whenever I’d go to him for advice about some issue in my life, he would always tell me:
“You have to make the decision. Sometimes, it’s right, and, sometimes, it’s wrong. But nobody can fault you just for making the decision. The only way we learn is through that choice.”
So, I’ve decided to put myself out there. Maybe I’m not publishable in the traditional sense, but why should that stop me from sharing my own story? I believe in this decision, for the learning experience, if nothing else. My dad taught me that.