As many of you know, my terrific father died on November 14th of last year. I will tell you that it is a loss truly felt to this day. He was a couple of months away from turning 93. He did have a full life; never a dull moment for a father of 7 living children (two were stillborn). I don’t know where he got the energy to work 2 and 3 jobs, spend time with his family, and in later life played for 2 senior softball leagues. My dad was a family man. Nothing made him happier than being together with his children. And as I have already mentioned, that while he was wise and put serious thought into things, he had a quirky sense of humor that either made you groan or laugh out loud. His motto was: “Leave them laughing.”
This past Saturday, his children and their families got together to wish him bon voyage. My brother, Pierre, arranged for the family to go out on a boat named the Fantasea to scatter his ashes on the ocean and have a little memorial service. My father was an avid fisherman, and he and one of my brothers who died, would fish together, talk about fish, and eat fish. (Though the one time I served fished for Thanksgiving dinner was the one time he didn’t want it and was disappointed. I guess he really didn’t relish the fact that the Native Americans brought fish to the first Thanksgiving meal. He was more interested in the turkey the Pilgrims brought. I still feel badly about that, Dad. And by the way, my daughter never lets me forget it.) Chris preceded my father in death by 21 years. We all miss him, but Dad felt keenly the loss as they literally used to be next door neighbors. When Chris died, his ashes were scattered at sea. So in a fitting ceremony, Dad’s ashes were scattered at sea as well. They have been in heaven together for a few months now and are probably talking about the big fish that got away, the best bait or lure to use, or the perennially losing state of the San Diego Padres.
Now it was time for Dad’s family to say, “Good Bye.” On Saturday the weather decided to start the June gloom we know so well here in Southern Cali. The day was breezy and overcast. The sun never did come out. Maybe this was fitting for the occasion. While heading out to sea, we saw seals, dolphins, and a mother/baby pair of whales. My father would have enjoyed this. The funeral director said in all the years she had done this service, this was only the third time that whales had been present. We all participated in spreading Dad’s ashes on the sea and rose petals were scattered on the water as well.
In spite of the somber occasion, many good memories of Dad were shared, including many funny ones. We had a memorial dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, and some of Dad’s friends joined us. It was so cool to hear their stories of my dad. I knew he was a gentleman, but the ladies would tell us he always opened and closed their car doors for them. He was always honest and could be trusted with anything. We enjoyed good Italian food, (I had salad and garlic bread – which really isn’t on the Medifast plan – because of being on a diet. No pizza. No lasagne. No Italian sausage.) but the best part were the really good stories about my father. He didn’t want us moping so I think it truly was a celebration of his life. I share this with you to let you know was Dad was an absolutely a wonderful and great man. He doesn’t have a monument anywhere, unless you consider the baseball trophies in our homes. I think his monuments are the lives of his children.
I also want to remind all of us, myself included, that we are here for a finite time on this planet. We need to make the best of it, and we need to make sure we spend time with and call or write the people we love, and tell them that, if nothing else. One of my father’s other pet sayings was, “Life is for the living!” I think Mr. Spock took my dad’s line and resaid it: “Live long and prosper!” Spock was a smart guy after all!
I am sincerely wishing each of you a wonderful life! It may not be sweetness and light all of the time, but living life is worth it.