My dad died on May 17th 2011. I was really lucky, I got to spend the last seven and a half months of his life with him in Naples Florida. It wasn’t the original reason I’d gone to Florida. I had thought, after my divorce, that I was going to start my life over down in Miami. And, as most of the forced solutions in my life, that one did not manifest serenity; more like the exact opposite, and within a few months of my Miami venture, I was being asked by my Mom to come and help her take care of my dad. The truth is, I wanted to leave Miami and I equally wanted to be there for my mom and dad. So, with a lot of guilt in my heart, I said yes.
I sent my two youngest children, who had made the move with me to Miami, back to their father in New Jersey and made the 120 mile trek west to Naples on the same day. I felt that I had completely failed as a person and that the Universe was conspiring against me. If it reads bleak, it was, mostly because I had brought the whole damn thing on myself.
When I arrived in Naples my Dad was there to greet me and the first thing he did was hug me and tell me how proud he was of me. I cried in his arms hard for a long time that day. And he just kept quiet and let me. It was the beginning of the end of our beautiful and unique relationship. I will always cherish that moment in that day as a pinnacle point in my life. I realized through his selfless devotion to me the true meaning of unconditional love.
Bob Bob and I always had a special connection. We just got one another. I’m not going to say that we didn’t have our moments, because we did, many of them. To a certain extent we were cut from very similar cloths, and I was his oldest child and wanted so much to be able to love and understand him and to believe that he felt the same way about me. Within that mutual desire we shared many many great times, laughs and conversations together. These moments are lessons embedded in my soul and to a great extent form the foundation of the most visceral parts of me.
One of his biggest expressions of wisdom to me was how important it was to end things properly in life. My dad believed that the end of things, how he behaved and treated others, would always have a significant and lasting impact that resonated powerfully and timelessly forever. So I wasn’t surprised on May 16th, when he was so so sick that he dressed himself in his favorite blue dry-cleaned button down shirt, khakis, belt and tassled loafers with socks to greet his hospice nurse for her weekly visit.
On that day, Jan told Bob Bob he was dying; and Bob called me into his room and told me too. I looked him straight in the eye and told him that I knew and I was so so sorry. You see, up until that moment my dad had never discussed his imminent death. I don’t believe he wanted to accept it. And even though I had known in my heart that the end was near, I had not wanted to accept it either. We were alike in that way as well.
My dad died at home 24 hours later surrounded by the people and dogs he loved the most in the world. He ended things properly, in his own way, with that same fiercely loyal devotion to family that he had so graciously offered up to me so many many times in my life. That kind of love lives on forever in me, my brother and sister, my mother, all of our children and really, any of the people whose lives he touched with his graceful and spirited incandecense. I miss him every day but the love endures; and it is that gift that courses through me and expresses out of me in an abundance that I hope and really believe would still make him proud.
Happy Father’s Day Bob Bob!