On Monday, October 17th, we bury my dad’s ashes. Which seems kind of weird, to bury ashes, but it’s what he wanted. He was a veteran of the Korean war and his second wife’s ashes are buried at Willamette National Cemetery in his reserved plot – waiting for him to join her. He passed away August 22nd – three days after his 76th birthday. I was fortunate to be with him when he died.
It’s going to be a very small ceremony. My dad pretty much kept to himself, didn’t have any close friends, only his dog. So his six kids and their significant others will be the only people in attendance.
Dad will receive the full military honors – taps, the flag ceremony and the 21 gun salute. And we’ve been struggling with what to do after that – before he’s put in the ground. It’s ironic – we were all raised Catholic and yet none of us attends any kind of church anymore. So getting “our pastor” to say a few words isn’t going to happen. The gal at the funeral home advised us to get someone cuz if the children think they can do it – they’re kidding themselves. There will inevitably be a meltdown and then it’s no longer about honoring my dad – it’s about consoling that person.
Steve Jobs died last week. And as I was driving home on Thursday, listening to NPR I heard his 2005 commencement address to the graduation class of Stanford University. It was shortly after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The cancer that eventually would take his life. In that speech I found the words to honor my dad and soothe my siblings souls. My wonderful husband Mark (sidenote: no we are still not officially married but I like saying husband) has agreed to read the following passage from Jobs speech:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Rest in Peace Dad and if you get the chance, go meet Steve Jobs.