"Because he was, we are."
That’s what my brother, who’s a psychologist, texted on the morning last week when my father passed away. I rolled my eyes when I read it. Too flowery, I thought, not at all what Dad was about. (His instructions: “No funeral. Cremate me and put my ashes in a coffee can.” He didn’t like a lot of fuss.) But, now, I’m thinking it works, and I like it.
Because Dad meant the world to his world – his family and friends. The texts and emails and phone calls haven’t stopped since people heard he was ill. Another brother, a paramedic, was the rock that kept him comfortable and medicated during the week he faded away. But that brother also had the job of fielding all the texts and emails and phone calls, a job he said was ten times more demanding than caring for a dying father.
His passing is upsetting mostly because he seemed unstoppable. He raised one family – my brothers, my sister and I – then remarried after Mom died and, at age 65, helped out an entirely new family, serving as the sounding board for his wife, her sons and daughter and her granddaughters. So, no, we’re not putting his ashes in a coffee can. They’ll be in a nice urn and they’ll make appearances at memorial services held by each of his families.
And, yes, because he was, we are. He gave his children actual life; but all the members of his extended family became, to some extent, the people they are because they were influenced by his approach to life: sure and steady.