May 31, 2011]------It was the best of time, it was the worst of times. Laying my father to rest recently was all those things and more.
Death is intricately woven to birth and in some cultures death itself is viewed as a sort of re-birth. That's how I try to look at it. It makes it more bearable.
The warm parts were the memories. Memories of growing up on a tiny Caribbean island, fishing, swimming, gardening with Dad. Dad teaching me to be a master painter--well, not a master but pretty darn good at painting our house inside and out!
My father lived all of 75 years and what a journey he had. Dad earned a meager salary but managed to provide for my seven siblings and I--sometimes going without so that we could have. He was the most honorably man I knew. Honest, hard-working, incredibly selfless and giving. Sometimes, I thought he was too good 'for his own good,' for people took advantage of that kindness sometimes.
Dad was a humble man, who had always put us before everything else. He didn't attend any fancy university but he was brilliant at what he did. Self taught builder, architect, mason, carpenter, gardener, fisherman--he did them all and did them well.
He built our home when I was a little girl and he did it primarily all by himself. He went to work an eight-hour job during the day and worked on our house in the evenings until it was too dark to see. Then got up the following day and repeated the same grueling pattern. Dad had an inexhaustible well-spring of strength and determination.
He was also a genuinely good man who helped built homes for neighbors even when they didn't have the money to pay him. That was just the kind of man he was.
Throughout his life, he worked hard to take care of his family and to the end he was a loving, selfless giver--fondly remembered by all whom he touched over the years. Everyone had only kind words for my dad. That was just the kind of man he was.
Dad was the silent type. Wasn't one to display copious emotions but by his deeds we knew he loved us fiercely. When he made me a kite with just enough tail to get it airborne and soaring beautifully, I knew he loved me. When he worked long hours to provide for us, I knew he loved me. When he told us scary folklore tales on moonlit nights, I knew he loved me. When he made us dolls from corn husk because we didn't have money to buy real ones, I knew he loved me. When he made us a wagon to pull each other around, I knew he loved me.
And I loved him with all of my heart. Just wish I was half as good, kind, industrious and selfless as he was. But I'm working on it.
My Mom is hurting deeply for my parents were together for over 50 years. She has lost her best friend, her constant companion. Her rock. I feel her pain and ache for her loss. It's painfully sad to see him go but I also feel relieved that he's not suffering anymore. I see his passing as transitional--changing from one realm to the next. A freeing of spirit to be one with the universe.
So if you happen to look up tonight, wherever you are, and you see a dazzling arc of light flit across the night sky--that would be him--Dad on his next phase of his journey--wherever that may be.