…it’s time now, for this significant man to be honored in a noteworthy and much deserved tribute of his influential and meaningful life…a necessary tribute to say out loud. It’s time for me to share my Dad and his grace by which he lived…and chose to die.
It was a joke between Dad and I, of what epitaph would be on his headstone. It was a discussion that we had, of all places, in the hospital cafeteria. I think it started when I commented on a rather ironic sight of a man plugged into a portable IV while sitting in a wheelchair wearing brand new looking sneakers. He was wearing a hospital issued gown and ratty looking housecoat that didn’t cover enough of his legs. He somehow balanced a food tray on his lap instead of the table he was at. On the tray was a plate of fried foods, rainbow jello cup, granola bar and a pack of cigarettes with a lighter under his tapping fingers. We decided he was in the right place for whichever got him first.
We both had a little morbid fun with our epitaph exercise of futility because Dad was never going to have a headstone. He didn’t want one. It was an odd feeling to be looking into my Dad’s eyes and trying to be more imaginative than him, about him gone. But that was our time and ironically, our escape from his mortality.
I have always thought that Dad is deserving of being etched, if not in stone, then in our memory of his existence. So, forevermorre, my Dad will be celebrated and remembered in my HeadStone Tribute Epitaph.
I had asked you how you wanted to be remembered….
…So, here it is. No words to stone, but my words to paper which flowed with ease. Tears came freely to my eyes, while smiles crossed my lips often. I miss you. But I found you in every word and every picture, and you were waiting in my memories.
We always had in each other that which was never lost, just quiet at times…our truth shared and embraced.
As I wrote this, I realized there are moments through this tribute that I flip back and forth between present and past tense; first and third person about my Dad. I talk as though he’s still here; as though you’re still here, Dad.
I speak to you in first person, in present time. I guess, in a way, as I write this epitaph, you are sitting right beside me. Like our time together on your hospital bed. Just talking and remembering…
…It’s been 10 years since you passed in my arms that morning…
Ten years is a long time to remember anything; but this moment I protect from time and hold close to heart…
I vividly remember leaving your hospital room that morning, where we got to share more and more of each other in the days leading to your death. I felt I was leaving you behind. Walking forward, further and further away from you. I was never coming back, and you were never going to be waiting…
…and it ached to exhale.
I left through the front doors of the hospital. Walking along the sidewalk to my car, I was looking up to the bright sky and feeling the full bloom of the sun, when a gentle, warm breeze of wind swept across my path and ruffled the leaves of the trees on the other side.
I knew it was you; I felt it was you. I didn’t leave you behind after all. You came with me.
Finally, since your last breath earlier while in my arms, I exhaled…
… “love, Dad, go with love. you’re finally free”…
EVERY NEW BEGINNING….
… Clichés have stood the test of time, simply because, they’re true. I have a great fondness for this beautiful saying, …“every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” …
And it has never been more poignant than on the day my Dad died…
As I walked further away from Dad and closer to the elevators for the final time, I remember my chest feeling heavy and my head light and void of any thought. I was alone as I waited for the bell to ping and a green light to indicate a lift’s arrival at the fifth floor.
Not long after, the doors opened and I stepped into the elevator to a few other people already inside. I wondered if I looked grieved, if they sensed this world just lost a wonderful man.
The elevator stopped at the next floor down. As the doors opened, I looked up and shuffled a little to my right to make way for a woman and a man who was holding with two hands tightly onto the handle of a baby carrier.
I couldn’t help but smile, as I felt an immediate presence of pure, innocent, shiny new hope. My thoughts pushed out the light-headed void and filled up with a happy thought as we all continued down; my Dad would have liked this moment…as the elevator doors closed to the maternity ward floor, just below where my Dad’s life ended…a brand new life was being taken home with brand new parents to their brand new beginning…every new beginning, comes from some other beginning’s end…
…”And When I Die”…
And when I die
and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
There’ll be one child born and a world to carry on.
I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near,
when dying time is here,
Just bundle up my coffin cause…
…when I die and when I’m gone,
There’ll be one child born and a world to carry on.
My troubles are many, they’re as deep as a well
I can swear there ain’t no heaven but I pray there ain’t no hell
Swear there ain’t no heaven and pray there ain’t no hell,
But I’ll never know by living, only my dying will tell,
Give me my freedom for as long as I be
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me
And all I ask of dying is to go naturally, only want to go naturally
Don’t want to go by the devil, don’t want to go by the demon,
Don’t want to go by Satan, don’t want to die uneasy,
Just let me go naturally
And when I die and when I’m gone,
There’ll be one child born, and a world to carry on
Songwriters: Laura Nyro