Today is also the 50th anniversary of the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Until this year, I had no idea that my dad’s death corresponded with this significant event in history. Of course, the assassination of King is a much more significant event in history than the death of my father but my own personal history is much more deeply affected by the untimely passing of my father.
So what can I say today, 4 years down the road? I still miss him. I feel very thankful for the gifts that he and my mom left to me and Doug, gifts that have allowed us to build the life that we have here in California. He would’ve loved that we lived in both London and Paris since leaving Stockholm. He would’ve loved seeing Maddie and watching her grow. He would be all over every renovation we’ve done to the house and to the yard. He would’ve loved this year’s March Madness with all the upsets and the fact that Loyola Chicago got to the final four. He would’ve loved that I’ve learned to make pie crust from scratch and he’d be up for eating pie whenever I felt like making it. He would be up here with us all week watching the Masters. He would be thrilled that the Angels acquired Shohei Ohtani and would be excited to watch almost every game of the 160 game season! And he would’ve reflected deeply on the death of Martin Luther King, acknowledging his amazing legacy, one that helped him to love the underdogs in our society, most notably the young Hispanics that he took under his wing and helped them build their businesses and establish their lives in the US under somewhat hostile circumstances.
I wish he was still with us but I also must admit that I wish he was alive as the younger, healthier man that he was. Admittedly, it would not have been easy to watch the aging process continue to take its toll, but I wanted him around for at least a few more years. I wish we were getting together regularly to play cribbage. I wish we were watching sports on TV, yelling at the refs, cheering for our favorites. I wish we could’ve gone on an Alaska cruise together. I wish we lived in the desert full-time while my parents were still living. Yeah, I wish for many things.
But even in the midst of the grief that I feel, I feel grateful that we shared the relationship that we did. We understood one another pretty well. We thought a like on many things although not all things. I inherited his intensity in all things and while at times I wish I were more mellow in my reactions to things, I’m also happy for the deep feelings that he taught me to exhibit.
I am grateful that his impact was deep in my life, but also in so many others. I still hear from former players, in fact, got a great note from one of them today, who acknowledge the role he played in shaping their lives. I still wonder if I will ever attempt to tell the story of Coach Moon and his championship teams through the eyes of his players but that’s a project for another day, probably another year.
So, for me, the 4th of April will always be mostly about my dad and his passing and not the other very significant event that rocked the US 50 years ago. I will always journey through this time of year, especially when his death date lands so close to Easter as it did this year, with sadness and gratitude. His final days were so awful for me, so unexpected, so hard to believe that in many ways it’s taken me 4 years to even understand how deep the wounds went. Both of my parents have their fingerprints all over our house in obvious ways, like the 52” TV that hangs in our house that came from theirs, like the lovely 2012 Honda SUV we drive, like the ways in which the sale of their home helped to pay for the renovation of ours. But even beyond these physical gifts, their fingerprints are all over our lives as we seek to be generous and loving to all we meet, as we reach out to those less fortunate than we, as we try to leave a positive imprint on others in the way that they so deeply and effortlessly did in so many other people.
I had great parents. And for all who knew them, I’m confident that they thought the same. Incidentally, the 5 year anniversary of my mom’s passing is in just 3 short weeks so April is pretty much a month of remembering my loss while acknowledging how much I gained through their very beings. Peace to their memories. And wow, do I have a treasure trove of them.