It is five years to the day that Dad died. When you find that your are going to lose someone as me and my sisters did in early December 2003, you start saying you goodbyes to that person. As part of that, I wrote the following letter to my Dad;

Dear Dad,

I wanted to write you a letter to tell you some stuff. It is not that I feel that we could not have this conversation in person, but every time I tried, I got choked up and, hell, if you try to talk like that all that gets focused on is the crying, you know?

So, what to say? It comes down to just a few things. First off, I want you to know that I have always admired the way that you were able to boot-strap yourself from your humble beginnings through college and law school. Our society values the Horatio Alger stories (with good reason), but it is kind of rare that you get to meet and know one. You will always be one of my examples of how determination and hard work can take you far.

I also wanted to let you know that you are my primary role model for what it means to be a man. I am not going to gild the lily here, I am completely aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Having said that, I really feel that you have showed the combination of strength and compassion; humor and discipline; and intelligence and knowledge that makes up a good man. If more men could live up to this standard, I think the world would be a much better place. All that I can do is try to set a similar example myself.

The thing that has most affected the way that I live my life is the way that you have lived your life rationally. I do not mean to imply that you don’t let your emotions inform your actions, that is not the case at all. But rather that once you have decided the direction that you want to go in, you consciously use your intellect and knowledge to get it. Beyond that you never shy away from researching anything that interests you or you might need. Too few in our society are able and willing to look dispassionately at their situation and form a plan to get from where they are to where they want to be; you have been a master at that for as long I have known you.

I want you to know that the things you have stood for in your life, social justice; fairness for workers and the under-privileged ; liberal policy, and a general feeling that government, well run, is a strong and needed force for positive change will have a passionate advocate in me. Where ever I am, I will be speaking of these things, in both of our names.

In the years to come I will miss your advice, and your conversation. I have really valued your opinions, even when I did not follow them. But, I have had the time to know you and will always be able to ask myself, “Now just how would Pop handle this?” and have a good feel for the way out of any situation. I want you to know that I love you and always have. I have been and will continue to be proud to introduce myself as Ron Egnor’s Son.

With Love, Remembrance and Respect, I remain your Son,

B-

I sent it to him about three weeks before the end. We had another visit where I went home to MI for a week end, and then came the cal on a Thursday evening, that they were taking him to the hospice. I immediately flew home and was the last person to have a conversation with him prior to the stroke that robbed him of his ability to speak. That was another good bye.

Dad lingered through the weekend, and though he was not conscious any of that time, my sisters and I were there, and we sang to him, we told him about our lives and assured him that we would take care of each other, he had no worries left in this vale of tears. Just after midnight, February 9th 2004 my father died. We prepared for the wake and the funeral, one more goodbye that had to be done just right. Pop-san (as I always called him) was never one for a lot of crying, so we made the funeral and wake as bright and cheery as possible. A huge blanket of daffodils covered his coffin, we asked for non-traditional flowers, and his friends and family responded with what had to be all the tropical flowers in the state. We played steel drum music (Dad loved it) and put up a power point slide show of his favorite pictures from his travels. Saying goodbye the way that he would have wanted was important.

I wrote an elegy and recited it for the 300 friends and family that attended the memorial. It was the goodbye that was expected from me. I did not cry there, but when my Godmother found (how the hell she comes up with these things I will never know) a violin player at the bar to play Danny Boy, well, what Irishman does not weep then? But it was the traditional goodbye, so it was a good thing.

We laid Dad to rest high up in a wall of the mausoleum his second wife had bought for him (she has this horror of her loved ones being in the ground). Dad was 300 pounds when he died and there was not quite a match with the lift and the lip of the slot. So we got a wry smile as two extra guys had to climb up and help push the coffin in to its final resting place, it is the kind of humor Dad would have liked, so it was a nice goodbye.

Those were the goodbyes for Dad, but that did not mean that I was done saying goodbye. Time and tears are what heal grief and there are lots of them. The first 4th July, when you don’t set off fireworks with him, you cry and say goodbye. The first birthday that he does not celebrate, you weep and you say goodbye, the first election cycle where you can’t debrief with the guy that taught you strategy and campaign tactics, you have to say goodbye.

They come faster, it seems as time goes by. The first Christmas, the first anniversary of his death, the first and second family weddings where he is not there, all of these are times of remembrance and tears. That first big promotion that you get, the birth of the grandson that he will never know, all of these are just signs that life will go on, that it does, but they also remind you of him, of the things you will no longer share.

There are good days, and it does not hurt all the time, that is the nature of grief, you go through it and it diminishes until it is just the special days that bring it home in spades. Even there, it still diminishes, and your goodbyes are less and less traumatic. The memories are less of what you lost, and more of what you had that was good.

So, it is five years on, it still sucks that Dad is gone, that is not ever going to change. I miss him and always will, but now at last, I think that I am done saying goodbye. I love you Dad, I still hold to my promise to carry your social values forward and read that letter every year on this day, just to remind myself. But at long last, this is the final goodbye.

B-

SomthingTheDogSaid

SomthingTheDogSaid

Just a humble (well kind of) talking Dog who is lucky enough to have an owner that is willing to type for him.

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