I’ve been thinking about this particular post all week and most of the iterations I drafted in my head started with a variation on a theme: “It’s been two years since my dad’s been gone.”
Ridiculously, that combination of words kept leading my imagination to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Doctor McCoy, discussing the death of Spock, saying “he’s not dead – not as long as we remember him.”
Star Trek seemed – even to me – a rather silly thing to invoke in remembrance of my father, if only because he professed never to like it when he was alive.
But, the idea of Dad not being dead, of living on these years is a powerful salve.
I am not only considering the comfort of faith. My father was a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church and full of deep faith (he would have been very taken with Pope Francis, I think). He expressed little fear at the end of his life about where he was headed. He was wrapped in a peace I can grasp intellectually and trust my own faith will help me grasp in totality when my time comes. Life with God was in his reach before he died and Dad knew this.
No, I am struck by Dad living on in the world, now. Today. Every day.
That he lives on in the love and memories of The Mater and my sisters and me and his grandkids and sons and daughters-in-law is real, but I am thinking of more than that, too.
A friend of mine on Facebook reminded me my Dad baptized one of her children and I cannot even begin to calculate how many kids he brought into the church. They, surely to some extent, are a living sign of my father. As are the people whose marriages he witnessed. Just how many beginnings of families was Dad present for in their sacred, initial moments? I really don’t know. I also don’t know how many people he guided through their final moments. I am not writing just of their funerals, for they were long gone before their funerals. No, I am reflecting on the hands held, the tears wept, the prayers shared, just prior to the moments of death. Dad sat at many, many bed sides.
Surely Dad lives on through these people and their experiences.
And he does in the homes built by his beloved Southern Exposure – an organization that has constructed over 225 homes in Juarez, Mexico and a true love of my father’s life. His picture hangs in the community center surrounded by the very homes his work helped build. I wonder how many eyes have laid on that picture. How many have wondered “who the heck is that guy?”
I know who that guy is.
He is my dad.
Present tense selected deliberately.
You can link HERE to the Eulogy I shared as his funeral.