27 years ago today my dad passed away. And to this day he is still the single-most important influence on my life.
I think the people who are there for us during our formative years have some sort of special power in our lives that no one else can touch.
Who we are raised to be as children influences everything that comes after. My life has taken some very interesting turns over the years, but that core sense of self was set when I was a kid.
And I think in a large part my values as well. I can be influenced by my environment sometimes, but there is a range in which I exist that I think is fixed and that range came from my dad who no matter how hard life was remained kind and honest.
He had this quiet confidence in his kids that I can’t adequately describe. And an acceptance, too. We were great just as we were and he loved us completely without reservation.
He didn’t sit around giving us rah-rah, you can do it speeches, he just…believed in us.
He was an example to me, too, of how you can keep going and somehow make it all work no matter how bad it gets.
He grew up under a basic death sentence, because at the time there was no state-provided medical care for dialysis patients so he knew when he lost his kidneys he’d die because he couldn’t afford the treatment.
But then the law changed and he was able to keep going. A life expectancy of twenty-some years turned into 45.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. There was never a point in my childhood where we knew what the next year would bring. My dad had two failed transplants,two spinal fusions, lost part of a lung, had pericarditis, and all sorts of other medical surprises on top of business and other life upsets.
But he always landed on his feet. And did it with grace and compassion and love. I don’t think I ever heard him complain about how life wasn’t fair, it just was what it was and that’s what he had to deal with.
So many people focus on being famous or having the most money. Acquiring the best things. Winning.
But I have to tell you, we’d live in a helluva lot better world if more people were like my dad and focused instead on loving and caring for the people in their immediate life.
I was absolutely blessed to have him for a dad and am grateful every day for the years I did have with him. And I hope by the time my life is over I will have done a tenth as much as he did to make the world a better place.