My father would have turned 86 yesterday. He was 49 when I was born on Valentines Day 1977. My parents were 25 years apart but their love was the stuff of legends. My father loved completely and was never afraid to show his love for us. He was born in San Antonio in 1927 to poor Mexican American parents. During the penultimate years of World War II he decided to join the Navy. The only problem was he didn’t know how to swim.
Minor details such as this never stopped him and somehow he sweet talked his way thru the swim exam. After the GI bill was passed his life would change forever. He was accepted into Texas A&M University and would eventually complete a masters degree before being accepted into medical school. During this time he met and married his first wife, there were two more to come, started a family and settled in Ohio for awhile.
The marriage fell apart and after it was decided that the children would stay in Ohio with their mother my father moved back to Texas. He decided not to go to medical school and instead entered law school at The University of Texas at Austin. He graduated in 1964 and started practicing law. He would spend the rest of his life in Austin.
Another marriage would come and go and eventually he would meet my mother. They had one of those great love stories that most people spend their whole life looking for. But sadly Alzheimer’s would set in and create a shadow of a great man. When we finally came to the realization that he would have to be put in a nursing home the transition was not a smooth road. He would call and beg to come home. When he did finally take his last breath a sense of relief came. Not so much for us but for him. I’ll never get over his death.
Time does not heal all. It just makes you except the loss of presence. Time has distanced his presence but sometimes his ubiquitous spirit will visit me in the strangest places. Sometime he comes while I’m standing in line at the store or standing in line for a movie. I never know when his ghost and the memories they’ll bring will come. But I am always happy to be present with them. Lord Byron wrote “Sorrow is Knowledge: they who know the most Must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth, The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life”. Byron was right. Knowledge is not the tree of life. Love is. And to truly love is to know sorrow.
We suffer to love. We suffer to deserve that love which is given. My father loved and was loved and this was his proudest accomplishment. When my final breath is drawn I hope to be able to say the same. It’s true what they say. It is better to have loved and lost than to never loved at all. My father knew this and taught me that without love one has nothing of value in this world. I’ve been blessed in a world so filled with unblessed burdens. And my father’s life and death have taught me the greatest lesson of all. Love and love well.