In the mid 1990’s I had recently moved from Pittsburgh to California, and my dad, a lifelong New Yorker, was nearing his sixtieth birthday. More distance separated us now than ever before. He frequently exhorted me to visit, morbidly emphasizing that he didn’t know how many more times we’d get to see each other.
Many, as it turned out; about twice a year for the next quarter century, sometimes here and sometimes there (and occasionally elsewhere) — long enough to welcome two grandchildren, and frequently enough to be very present and beloved in their childhoods. He watched with pleasure and pride as they grew into accomplished young men.
Those same young men were with me in New York today, along with my sister — our dad’s complete genetic legacy — as he drew his final breaths after a long decline.
His body may have died today, but much of him lives on in me. Every time I take pleasure in a job well done, that’s my dad. Every time I keep my word, that’s him too. When I muster my self-confidence, when I deliver a firm handshake, when I plan ahead or stand up for myself and others, that’s him. The joy I derive from my loving family — that is one hundred percent my dad.
He equipped me with the tools I needed for building a good life, and for enjoying it. Thank you Dad, and goodbye.