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Saturday, 6 August 2011

Voyeur

Watching someone else's pain when it's real and not in the movies just isn't a fun thing to do.  Today was the funeral for my dear friends' 5 year old son, and watching the strength of that couple as they stood to chronicle the last day of their baby's life, was absolutely heartwrenching to say the least.

They will remember the sweet little boy they lost and will likely see his face in every young man who mimics his age, as his twin sister grows, and they will remember him in every 5 year old boy.  To hear details of how he spent that last day was painful, and left the congregation in tears.... I want to tip my hat to both of them.  They ARE what people should strive to be like.  They showed strength, humility and love through this pain, and I am in awe of them. 

My family is also facing an impending memorial service as well, because we will have a celebration of the life of my father in October.  Quite a different memorial, as he had the chance to live a very healthy, full and long life. 

He left us Christmas day, and it's taken us this long to get to a place where we will be able to tell jokes and stories about my dad's impact on the people around us, with a drink in hand and a genuine smile on our faces.  My father INSISTED we not have a funeral.  He always told us he wanted a plain pine box to be cremated in, and he wanted a party with a Dixieland Jazz band.  He wanted smiles and laughter, not tears and heartache, so we will do our best to honor the most honorable man I have ever known. 

Saying goodbye to someone who lived such an amazing life is sad, but the one thing I can say, is my father had no regret, and lived EVERY day of his 88 years 9 months to the fullest.  The last three months when he knew he wasn't going to win the fight were tough slogging but he was an amazing man.  An extraordinary human being, and as I've said before, we thought so when he was alive too... we haven't canonized him in death.

Before he died, I had the unique opportunity of interviewing my dad for a story I wrote for the web page of the oil company he and I both worked for.  It was a great experience because I got to see my dad from a whole other perspective....  I never pictured my dad as one of the guys... but he sure was....  He shared all sorts of stories with me about his days as a geologist, working in the Rocky Mountains on a string of pack horses in the 40's....

One of the anecdotes he shared with me, happened in 1947 when he was a summer student... he was working out in the field, but he and his field partner came in to town for some meetings so were staying in a hotel for a couple of nights.  It was an incredibly hot summer, and they decided to buy a few beers to refresh them after a long day... this was before air conditioning was readily available, so the hotel room was very hot and stifling, and they had been unable to buy any cold beer.  The decision was made to cool the warm bottles they bought under the shower in the bathtub....

The bottles had come wrapped in individual paper mache sleeves, which they, being engineers, decided would be great to help cool the beers off faster.  They were "so thirsty" they decided to drink a warm one while they waited for the others to cool off...BLECH...  After opening the windows and propping open the door in order to get some air movement through the room, they sat down on the balcony to drink their one warm beer, and chat. 

Apparently they chatted longer than they thought...When my dad got up to go to the bathroom to check on the beers, his socks became wet because the carpet was covered with about a quarter inch of water.

Needless to say, the paper mache 'beer jackets' had melted off the bottles, plugged the drain, and the water was slooshing over the side of the tub....  They started to panic worried the water would seep through the ceiling to the room beneath them... so, they went to sop up the water with their bath towels.  When they went to get them, they found out housekeeping had only left them a single set of towels....

Dad said they didn't get a lot of sleep that night because they had to sop up the water, wring out the towel in the bathtub, and do it again and again and again.... By the time the sun was rising, they got the bulk of the water soaked up, but they decided to make a quick getaway before someone found out.  Like theives in the night, they left before it was completely light outside....

I would never have pictured my dad doing something like that.  It made him much less Godlike in my eyes, and replaced that image with one of a human being with faults.  Not many, I assure you, but still fallible.  One or two slips in 88 years of being an upstanding guy who didn't just yap about his moral standing but lived and breathed it every single day during my lifetime, isn't bad...

The hours I spent interviewing him for that story, are among the most precious I spent with him.  He was just a guy, telling me very interesting stories about his early days with the company I now work for...  I have a few great stories about my early years there right out of highschool, before I went to college too... and I hope someday I will relate those tales to my boys.... and they'll see me without my mom-badge on.

Later...

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