Three different ministers came to see my dad on his final day; two were friends, one came to anoint him with oil, reading Psalm 23 when she did (The Lord is my Shepherd . . .) Dad had been asleep for some time when she came in. He was in a lot of pain and was heavily medicated, but when she read Psalm 23 he woke-up and recited it with her, from memory. I never really thought of Dad as being religious because he never really spoke of it much, or, at least I didn’t think he did; but as St. Francis said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” In that hospital room I could see how much comfort it gave him, what it meant to him, and that he wasn’t afraid, at all, of what was coming next.
After I lost my Dad I started reading the bible. I found, in the pages of the Old Testament, a lot of the wisdom he used to pass on. Ecclesiastes, “Cast thy bread upon running waters: you will find it again in many days” is one I remember the most; he’d usually only say the first part, “cast thy bread upon running waters”, and he'd say it when someone did something they shouldn’t.
When I was young, I had no idea what he was on about; I just kept thinking, why would you throw bread on the water? Wouldn’t it dissolve or be eaten by fish or birds? It wasn’t until I was older and learned to not be so literal and realized it was about Karma.
My dad had a very mimimalist life style. But he knew how to live and how to let live. He wasn’t judgmental but he had no problem expressing his opinion. These things I found in Christ’s teachings. Dad left me many things, but by leaving me this legacy he allowed me to grow closer to him even after he was gone by learning from some of the same teachers who taught him. It gave me a rock to stand on when the world got shaky, something to cling to through his death, becoming published, my wife’s affair, my divorce, and so forth; it also gave the faith to never stop trying.
We butted heads on many issues, especially politics, though in the last years we learned to discuss and not argue. We both respected that each person should be allowed to do what they felt was right as long as it didn’t hurt others. We just didn't always agree on what that right was.
He only had a grade eight education, was never even on a plane until he was in his 60’s, and never left the continent, but he was one of the wisest, most open minded and generous people I've ever known. He could travel anywhere, for any length of time, with just one small suitcase. He was witty, quick with a joke, or a comeback, but never cruel. He remained as sharp as a tack right until the end.
He cursed about a lot of things, at the Blue Jays baseball team, or at the news, and at a wide variety of inanimate objects when they wouldn’t work the way he needed them to. And at me a few times, mostly for things I hadn’t done. Then again, most of the things I did do I never got caught at, so it all worked out. But I never remember him raising his voice to my mom; or ever putting her down, not once.
I miss my dad. He wasn't a rich man, but he was wealthy. The things he left behind are priceless and eternal; they won't rust or be eaten by moths, if only I can become wise enough to truly treasure them, and to learn grow in and through them.