My father died yesterday. It wasn't a complete shock - 20 years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and treated with then-new therapies that bought him more time than anyone expected. He used that time well. This year, cancer returned in a much more aggressive mode and won its battle for dad's body. His family was fortunate to be with him in his last days to say goodbye.
My mom, brothers and sister filled dad's hospital room with stories and laughter to the point where nurses were poking their heads in to see the party — and we encouraged visitors to add their voices to the conversation. Over the course of many days, I was reminded that my siblings each had a unique relationship with dad, but all of those relationships were based on the same values we learned by repeated example: curiosity, integrity, loyalty, uncompromising excellence and love.
Dad's varied accomplishments in life derived from his unwavering adherence to those values. They enabled him to become an outstanding competitor, leader, craftsman, husband, father and grandfather. My mother's expressions of love and loss for her partner of 57 years were an equally compelling commentary on the meaning of marriage.
I loved my dad. I miss his presence already, and will remember his lessons forever.