Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vale Pater

One of the things that was weighing on me when I last wrote was that my father had been hospitalized in May, and that his condition didn't seem to be improving. I haven't written since because, as it turned out, it wasn't, and he died in late July.

My father was 88. He'd had a long, full life, and had been dealing with a number of medical conditions that had caused his physical health, emotional wellbeing, and quality of life to deteriorate steadily and significantly over the last decade. It turns out none of that prepares you when the time comes to say goodbye.

I went back to Boston to be with my family for the wake and funeral. My sisters and I spent hours composing an 8-page eulogy in which we tried to distill his essence - his kindness, his steadfast reliability, his sense of humor and enjoyment of life, his love of sports and music, his devotion to our mother and all of us. The priest who said his funeral mass - who also married DP and me 20 years ago and has known my family even longer - described him as a man whose "true vocation was fatherhood."

Our Boston community of family, friends, and colleagues turned out in force to commemorate him and condole with us. I've heard so many people say how much it means to have that support when someone you love dies, and now I know how true it is. I will always be grateful for that solace and care.

My father was a romantic but not sentimental, and couldn't abide most of the traditional choices for father-daughter wedding dances. All of us who got married chose instead to dance with him to songs that were his favorites, and that are bound up with our memories of him. This is mine.

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