Wednesday, June 25, 2008


At Dad's memorial, my cousin, Molly read from The Book of Qualities, by Ruth Gendler. This is a beautiful book. My dad gave me a copy when I was 13 years old. It has been well-loved. The binding is broken, and there is a stain on the top of the pages from where the book leaned against some purple irises I picked from our yard.

Dad also gave Molly a copy, and he told her to read the section called Confidence and think of him.

Confidence ignores "No Trespassing" signs. It is as if he does not see them. He is an explorer, committed to following his own direction. He studied mathematics in France and still views his life as a series of experiments. The only limits he respects are his own. He is honest and humble and very funny. After all these years, his sister doesn't understand why he still ice skates with Doubt.
This is such a great description of some aspects of my dad. Of course there was more to him than this. I know he prided himself on being a free-thinker, not taken in by dogma, and willing to stand alone if that is what it meant to stay true to himself. That is why he opposed the Vietnam War before it was popular to do so, and that is why he pursued alternative therapies when he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

I really admired that Dad had an internal compass for ethics, spirituality, and health. He trusted his own sense of things, and he found his own path. When I think of Dad, I think of that confidence, but I also think of his incredible vulnerability. I know when he got cancer, some part of him was absolutely terrified. Yet he made the decision over and over to not give in to despair and fear.

I keep having this phrase go through my mind: "You just do the best you can with what you have." I know this might sound simplistic, but what else is there, really? There are things you can control and things you can't, but in all cases you can choose to invest yourself fully in life. I don't know if Dad ever said that to me explicitly, but he certainly demonstrated it with the way he lived and they way he faced challenges.

1 comment:

cyndi/mom/nana said...

I just wanted to say that I came across your blog site through another site. I most wanted to say that I am so sorry for your loss of your son Sage. I have spent hours reading your story that of Sage and your Dad. What a great mommy and daughter you are and thank you for sharing your story. Know that you are loved and are in many prayers. Love to you and your family. Please be gentle with yourself and know Sage and your dad are forever remembered. Sincerely, Cyndi Duenas, Nana to Olive Lucy Kawecki