My experience with my father's death started with a phone call. You might know the kind. It's the one I dreaded picking up the most. The voice on the other end of the line was very matter of fact and the conversation was brief. I got up. My bag was already packed. It had been for weeks. The airport was close. My parents lived four hours away and I still remember the sound of the crashing surf as I climbed into the cab.
My father had died. It was expected and we had said our goodbyes weeks before, but I still regret not being there. I couldn't stop wondering if an angel had whispered in his ear and held him close in that long last lonely moment.
All in all, everything went off very smoothly. Just as he had planned. He was meticulous in everything he did . . . why should his departure be any different? We were as ready as we could be for what had happened. Dad had Alzheimer's. And early on, he decided to transition all aspects of his control of the family before things got out of hand.
There was no Irish wake, such as the one he held for his father. There was a cremation and the ashes were flown back to his birthplace so he could be buried in the family plot. As was befitting the occasion, his hearse was a black PT Cruiser. There was no need for an expensive stretched vehicle. After all, I held his ashes in a wooden box on my lap and it was only family and a few close friends. “It's not how much you make, but how much you save", he always said. We brothers passed the box around on the way to the cemetery so that we all got a chance to hold him one last time. And, we left him there, weighing probably about the same as he did when he came into this world.
I thought I was mentally and spiritually prepared for whatever was going to happen at my father's death. It was expected. It had been going on for quite some time. And I thought I was ready. I was not ready. It hammered me with a crushing blow. I found this poem by Henry Van Dyke and it really made a lot of short easy sense for me at the time. I still read it occasionally and it brings back memories of that last lonely ride in the black PT Cruiser.
"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: There, she is gone!
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: There she is gone! There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: Here she comes!
And that is dying".
Henry Van Dyke
Jeff Fitzgerald has played many roles in this lifetime: adventure traveler, international businessman, entrepreneur, family man and intrepid crusader of a life without limits. His recent discovery of a very remarkable woman who has suddenly decided to share her belief busting secrets of success can be found at: http://choosetobeamillionaire.com