My Dad was the Best of Us All

Dad and Me

As is often the case I don’t know where to start, so I’ll begin at the beginning…

My dad passed away in his sleep on May 1st, 2013.

I’ve been absent from my online journal because, quite frankly, I can’t write.  The last thing of any significance that I’ve written in nearly a month has been my words of remembrance of him that were thoughtfully read aloud during his celebration of life service in North Carolina.  My mom and dad both are beloved in their church, and their church family did an amazing job in helping us celebrate my dad’s life.  And celebrate we did.  A celebration is what my dad wanted, and I was pleased to hear Pastor Susan tell us in a preparation meeting, “I’m glad you want a celebration, because we don’t do gloomy.”

To know my family is to know that we are passionate, fiercely loyal, filled with laughter and filled with even more love.  My dad was the best of us all.

My usual routine on any flight is to sleep.  I can generally nod off before the plane even leaves the gate.  It makes flying more enjoyable for me as it helps make the time pass quickly.  I mean, seriously, I can only look into filling my house with items from the Sky Mall catalog for so long.  But as I sat on the four hour flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta (before changing planes and heading to North Carolina), my mind raced and, being a writer, I wrote.  I wrote my words of remembrance for my dad.  They were the most difficult words I’ve ever put to paper.

I have sat to write a number of times since, but realize the time isn’t right.  As you might tell from this entry, I’m not quite organized yet.  My fear, too, is the next few entries in my journal here will be filled with gloomy.  And I don’t do gloomy either.

As I hand wrote my thoughts on the plane, fear and sadness and a sense of loss overcame me.  There were still so many things my dad and I had planned on doing together.  He had plans with my brother, too.  He had a lifetime of plans with my mom.  That sense of loss can be overwhelming.

My heart aches, and each day I’m learning to live with that nagging sense that something’s missing.  And while I’m still processing that emotion, that loss, I was careful then as I’m careful now not to let it consume me.  First, it’s not what he would have wanted.  And secondly, I’m blessed beyond belief.  I’m fortunate to have forty years of memories and stories, love and laughter that I shared with my dad.  Many of you, most of you, will never be as fortunate to have known my dad.  For the forty years of memories I have, I feel truly blessed.  For me, the real tragedy would have been that I’d never gotten to know him so well.

Life goes on, and life is good…

 

(untitled)

3.15.1998

He’s been to me like mercury

Changing with the weather

And though our paths don’t cross as much

The reception gets better

I’ve placed the blame in so many ways

Without considering consequence

And it’s been years to understand

How love takes precedence

So time has changed and seasons rolled

I’ve found fortune to be young

I’m proud to say I love my dad

And honored to be his son.

In Remembrance

Virgil Thomas Morton

May 1st, 2013

If you knew my dad, he gave you something.  You’re here because he gave you something.  Chances are, you brought it with you.

40 years I’ve known my dad.  In that time, I’ve gotten a lot.  Some things I wanted.  Some I didn’t.  40 years of learning.  There are tangibles I’ve received.  Heirlooms.  I’ve received habits.  I wear the cologne I do because that’s what my dad wore.  He taught me to be a man.  To be a gentleman.  To love baseball.  He taught me there are bad days and he taught me there are good days.  Great days.  The best of days.  He gave me those…

The best of days.

Each moment was a piece of him.  Each lesson, each gift he took from himself and gave it to me.  He gave to you.  Sometimes we wanted what he had to give.  Sometimes we didn’t.  But he knew we needed whatever he was giving.  And never in 40 years did he ever ask for anything in return.

Sure, you might disagree.  He could be demanding.  Believe me, I know.  His expectations were high.  But that was part of his gift to us.  He saw in us things we couldn’t or didn’t want to see.  His expectations were high because he knew our potential.  And he had enough ambition and drive to fill this entire room.  Because he knew we’d be successful.  He knew eventually we’d learn.  And when we were successful, when we did learn, he was there to celebrate our success with us.  Happy to see us happy.  Proud.  Our smiles were our gifts back to him.

I’ve never seen him so proud than when my brother served in the military.  He knew the dedication and sacrifice it took to be successful in the army, and he beamed when he spoke of my brother’s accomplishments.

I’ve never seen him so happy than when he and my mom were together.  I have many, many fond memories of them dancing.  Oh yes, my dad could cut a rug!  I still remember seeing him hold her tight and then spin her away before pulling her close again, all the while singing along with the song.  He was always close to her, holding her hand.  My dad taught me what love and respect looked like.

I’ve never heard him laugh so hard than when he and I were together.  He laughed so easily.  He was a great straight man…A great Dean Martin to my Jerry Lewis.

I still have so much to learn.

I have some regrets.

My heart aches because I miss him.

But I’m here because he gave me life, and so much more.  40 years of lessons, whether I wanted them or not.  40 years of being there for me.  Always.

I imagine someday my own kids will be talking about me after I’m gone.  I just hope by then I’ve managed to be half the man my dad was.

And when that time comes, I hope more than anything that he and I are together again, enjoying a beer, enjoying the warmth of the sun, playing golf.

And he’s still teaching me how to play…

8 responses to “My Dad was the Best of Us All

  1. My condolences on your loss. It sounds, from your writing, like your father was a great guy, and a great dad.

    Don’t let your writing languish too much but don’t push it before you’re ready, either. You’ll know when that is. Much like you, I couldn’t write for a while after my mom passed away (the last thing I had written were words of remembrance for her life celebration) but I tried pushing it anyway. I ended up getting frustrated and hating not only what I had written, but the craft itself. So I stopped writing until one day a plot bunny wandered through the tangled garden that is my mind and next thing I knew I had written three pages and an outline for a short story.

    Best of luck and best wishes.

    • Thanks so much for stopping in to comment! My dad truly was a great guy, and the memories I have still bring a smile to my face. I know the writing will come, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your affirming words. Thank you. I can be impatient, but I know it’ll happen when it happens. I actually have an ongoing journal entry I’ve been adding to, that is mostly random thoughts and incomplete feelings that I will probably never share online. I write to write. The cohesive thoughts and ideas will come, and soon after the task of writing for a living will resume.

      I can hear his voice telling me to be patient, just like he always did.

      Thanks again for stopping in…

  2. Greg,

    This is so beautiful. Your words show the depth of your love for your dad and the passion you have for life. It is a wonderful tribute to him. I am so thankful we got to meet.

    • THANK YOU!!! Bonnie, it was so wonderful to be able to finally meet you as well. Though our conversation was short, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to my next visit and we can have more time to catch up. Thank you for the love and support you have shown my family!!

    • Thank you, Robin!! I am taking each day as it comes, and am finding that more and more of those words are easier to find. I’ll continue to write because it’s what I do, but I’ll also do it because dad loved my writing, and encouraged me every chance he got.

  3. Greg-I am so sorry fo ryour loss but so happy about your perspective, faith, and memories. I have yet to experience that kind of loss, but I know it cuts deep and will take time to heal if those wounds even heal-He sounds like a wondefrul father & friend. Let’s connect soon-all the best and a big hug!

  4. Greg- I am so sorry for you loss, I know how much your Father meant to you and how much he was a part of all you are. I truly feel awful because we haven’t talked and I could not be there for you my friend. I know you are hurting bad and I know you will survive and flourish because of the love of your family and friends. I wish I could have meet him although I do remember you calling me from there and asking me a trivia question about SEC. I know he will be missed but he also will always be there. Peace to you my friend

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