Alas, I wish this was some faulty translation of Albert Camus’ famous opening line, but my father did indeed die today. Right now the loss feels overwhelming, but somehow I felt the need to offer tribute to him in my writing.
In fact, I’ve written about Dad quite a few times before on this venue. There were his favorite stories (and his other favorite stories). There was the time the two of us went fishing together. One can’t forget how he told of the time my Uncle complained that Dad “had more shrimp than me” , or when I got to join him and three of his dozen siblings at the Rowley Diner (which isn’t actually named the Rowley Diner).
And then there are the jokes. He was always joking; the kind of corny jokes that were punnier than heck (and always clean). Whether it be saving us the donut hole or the old Dalmatian on the fire truck joke, we could always count on Dad to keep us in good humor.
One of my favorite posts about Dad was called “Leader of the Band” after the Dan Fogelberg song. The refrain of the song takes me on a metaphorical journey:
The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just the living legacy
To the leader of the band
I know in many ways I’ve failed to live up to his example, but I hope I at least succeeded in living a life of honesty and integrity, the way Dad always lived his life. As I read through my tears the comments from friends and family about his passing, I see that he had a lasting affect on so many people’s lives. He was well loved by everyone who met him. He will be missed.
My thoughts now turn to my Mom, who has been lovingly caring for my father through his physical trials these last few years. His passing is two weeks short of his 92nd birthday, which coincides with my parents’ 66th wedding anniversary. [Dad always joked that he got married on his birthday so he would never forget his anniversary.] My mother is surrounded by our large family and network of friends during this difficult time. At 87 herself, she is still self-sufficient and energetic, but feels the loss of the love of her life more deeply than any of us can imagine. As Lincoln might have said, it is for us the living to ensure that we honor Dad’s legacy by honoring and supporting our mother’s continuing life.
I’ve written this both as a tribute to my father and as a sort of therapy; I’m still not sure if I should post it. It seems both too personal and not personal enough. If you’re reading it, obviously the decision was made in the positive.
David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.