My thoughts and writing have turned toward my father lately. Probably because during the beautiful, hot, summer days and nights last year I was making my way back and forth to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston at least twice a day sitting with him, consulting with various physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and waiting for so many surgeries to be over. Those were days filled with hope.
It seemed that all of his life nothing could take my father down…I even believed it myself. There was the fall from the third story of his triple decker home when he was 2 years old. ( His arm never healed correctly; if he held it out to the side, it was bent like a bow.) There was the time he tried to manually push the metal post of a fence (cemented into the ground,) back in position… resulting in a massive laceration caused by the blunt trauma of a round post after it rebounded into his forehead. ” There was the fall off of the top step of the ladder. (the step that says…DON’T STEP HERE)…leading to major surgery on his wrist. Not too long after that, trying to keep up with his grandchildren, he fell off of a skateboard at age 69, and reinjured the same wrist.
I could dig deeper into my memory and come up with more stories of how my father defied death, but in the end it was a disease called Mesothelioma which finally took him down. It dealt the final crushing blow that ended the life of a man who believed that the sole purpose in this life is “to learn how to love.”
I am not writing to tell you the story of my father’s death, but rather the story of what my father taught during his life, as told through the words of his grandchildren. While planning my father’s memorial service, my sister and I gathered our own children and our neices and nephews together. We were planning on having each child create their own short prayer to be said at the Funeral Mass. What came out of that meeting was even more special.
This small exercise gave me a glimpse into the minds of children who loved their grandfather unconditionally, because that is all they knew. They admired and looked up to him. He was a friend, a teacher, a really big fan…he loved them with all of his heart. So here’s to you Pop. In the words of your grandchildren…”What the world would be like if Pop created it.”
“The world would be purple, and there would be no graffiti.” ” Everywhere you looked would be fields of flowers.” This, to a child, is beauty, and if Pop created the world, it would be beautiful.
“No one would go hungry because it would rain food from the Heavens…(and apple juice.)” Everyone would have a home. Hunger and homelessness to a child are sad, and if Pop created the world there would be only happiness.
“We would actually all like each other.” This came from one of the eldest grandchildren, who felt that the way people treat each other in this world is not good. We pretend to like each other, and when it really comes down to it…do we?… and do we show it? Through this boy’s eyes, the answer is no. This is deception, and if Pop created the world, people would be genuine and good to one another.
“We would all understand each other’s languages. ” To a child, the inability to understand one another presents a barrier to friendship, and there would be no barriers. Only friendship.
“The world would be free. All people would be free.” Free to do what they wanted. Free to be happy in their own way.
“There would be no war…”
How to create a world of beauty, happiness, genuineness, friendship…free and without war? Just the way a man who taught them how to love would do it. You see…seen through the eyes of love…”It would be simple.”