Today, April 13th, would have been my dad’s 81st birthday. As many know, he passed away right before this last Christmas. It was unexpected, but not a complete shock. My dad lived with Parkinson’s Disease for 18 yrs and had various other ailments. I will not rehash my eulogy for him but would be lying if i said i wasn’t revisiting what he meant to me on this day. I think of him often as i also do my Uncle Stuie, who passed a couple months later. Both were huge influences in my life and both were staples in my upbringing.
However, for my dad, i feel we should still celebrate this day. It is tinged with sadness but beyond that sadness, lies the preference to remember him with happiness and an appreciation of life. Even in the worst of times we go through, there is always some inspiration to be found. My dad and this feeling, most came to my mind in the wake of three recent passings. Passings of three people I never knew personally, but still had a profound affect on me.
The first is Lily Larue Anderson, a 6 yr old girl who i only knew through a friend and on Facebook. She passed away after a fight with a terrible disease. There is nothing fair about that. Nothing right about that. Yet i look at pictures of her and see that she had a loving family. She still had time to be silly, to have fun, to have dreams. Not nearly enough time but every moment DOES count. You also see all the people she touched, all the people that fought for her, donated for her and prayed for her (whether you believe in that or not) and it strengthens your belief in the good of humanity. With all the sh*t going on in this world, there is nothing stronger then having your friends and family (hell, even kind strangers) there to support you and love you. There is no GOOD in the tragedy of this girl dying so young, but she AFFECTED so many lives positively in such a short time, and there is tremendous value in that and she will never be forgotten by the many thousands she reached.
In that same vain, the world learned the story of Lauren Hill, the 19 yr old who was told at 17, she only had 2 yrs to live because of inoperable brain cancer. She however, did not let that stop her dream of stepping onto a college court and playing basketball and scoring a layup ( more then ONE in fact). What seems like a simple obstacle instead speaks VOLUMES. I cant imagine what being stricken with something like this would do to me, which only makes me burst with admiration for people like Lauren. Not only did she raise a ton of money, and a ton of awareness but who knows how many people stricken, took a spark from her story and climbed a mountain they never thought possible. 19 yrs is also way too young but she f**king made them count.
Speaking of which, the last person I speak of is the epitome of a role model to me. Sam Simon passed away at 59 yrs old but couldn’t have lived life better. First off, personally for me, he helped created The Simpsons and make it into the golden standard (and my favorite show) it was in those early years. For any fans, look at what aspects he had a hand in its creation and realize he was the rock that made that show what it is/was. More importantly though, he then spent the rest of his life giving away his vast fortune to the underprivileged, both human and animal. None of us are ALONE here on earth, and Simon’s efforts and acts were a true example of realizing that and doing something about it. First he made us laugh and feel good with entertainment (I quote Simpsons 17 times a day and still makes me LOL as the kids say), and then went further then that and used that philosophy to make others feel better in “real life” Amazing.
If you do not know one or some of these names, please take a quick look about them and you will see there are smiles through the tears.
You can only have so much success and so much wealth. It is what you do with it…how you affect others that truly defines you. I am single and am independent and happy on my own for the most part, but nothing gives me the natural high of making other people i know happy, making them laugh or just being around them. My family and friends are what make my world go round, even those times I’m standing alone in the center of it. There are aspects of this in everyone’s journey above.
Its for those reasons, when all these occurred, i thought back to my dad. He blessedly lived a long life, however he might not have reached as great an audience and he didn’t have vast fortunes to give away (although that never stopped him from providing). What he did do was live by and instill core values in Debbie and I that were echoed by these 3 special people. Be silly sometimes, laugh ALOT, affect others positively, BE THERE for them when they need you, make them laugh ALOT and help others that might not be as fortunate as you.
Seems like a damn good credo to me and my Dad stuck to it for 80+ years. We should all be so lucky. Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you and miss you.