by Debby Myers
What I see in him is a man who had many experiences―some breathtaking, some tragic, some hysterical―and he was strong, proud and loved. As he began to deteriorate from the man I knew, I didn’t want to remember him in that way. I couldn’t bring myself to go see him the past few months, knowing he was dying. I think it was because every time I lose someone I love, my memories of them come flooding back. I want my memories of him to be when he was talking and smiling…living. It may sound selfish to some.
My own father died almost 30 years ago at the age of 48. No one said he had a long,
wonderful life. On the contrary, he’d had a rough one. It was a heart
attack, sudden but not really unexpected. My parents were divorced and I hadn’t
see him much―not since I was a teenager. Yet he was still my dad. That connection
I’ve been told you can see him in me. My memories of him are so vague. I wish I’d known him better and I wish I’d spent more time with him. I wish we had talked about his childhood, his memories. Hindsight is definitely 20/20.
The death of a parent is different than any other. They gave you life and it feels like a part of who you are dies with them. In my case, the loss was overwhelming. I needed to fill that void with memories―the good ones—of my dad. I was angry because there were so few, so long ago.
None of my children ever knew my dad, so I am their only link to him. Whenever I got the chance, I would tell them something about him. That he loved basketball, that he made up little nicknames for me and all my friends, that he liked to drive, and loved Elvis Presley.
I’m so glad my husband will have so many memories of his father to share with our grandchildren about their great-grandfather. That’s the circle of life we speak about. It’s so important to keep one’s spirit alive after they pass. In truth, it’s the one thing I think they want―not to be forgotten. It’s so important to tell our children and grandchildren stories of those who have gone. I wonder what my children will remember about me. I like to think I’ve given them many good memories.
In all aspects of my life, I’ve stuck by a phrase. In 4th grade I was cast in a play at school called “Cowboy on the Moon.” From a young age, I remember wanting to be in the spotlight and I had no fear of performing, sometimes to a fault. At one of our final rehearsals, my teacher, Mrs. Demuth, said to me, “Take your moments up there and help others have their moments too. Your moments are how you will be remembered.”
So, readers―do it! Take your moments! Over the next several weeks, our family will be sharing their moments of my father-in-law. May he now rest in peace and know he will be remembered.