Advice from my Dad, Harry
My 97 yr. old Father does not want his funeral to be about being a brilliant attorney, a mediocre businessman or a father of six.
He wants it be about ‘the ticket’.
The ticket is what my Father referred to as this:
“If you never buy a ticket you will never win the raffle.”
What I believe my Father meant by that is even more than, “Just take a taste. You don’t know until you’ve tried it.” “Try it you’ll like it.”
My Father did mean for me to expand my horizons, live life to the fullest. Go beyond expected and predictable into the unknown, the curious, and the adventure of life. He wanted me to travel with my mind with ideas, thoughts and beliefs with a good education. He wanted me to explore conversations and experiences with others in authentic relationships. He wanted me to travel into the world to see how other cultures solved similar problems. He wanted me to experience every moment as new, and put my own mark on life. He wanted me to make my splash past the superficial surface into the deep beliefs of life. He wanted me to challenge myself. He modeled that type of life, so it was actions more than words that revealed his legacy.
My Father is from the Great Generation where the rags to riches, making gold out of straw is what made character. As a member of the Great Generation, my Father also believes the reputation with oneself was even far more important than the reputation we make with others. The compass arrow in my Father’s life is to live authentically, even if it is unpopular or against the grain. He is fearless and autonomous in his choices, even today.
My Father lives alone in his own apartment. My Father is blind, has constant vertigo and has serious heart problems. Even so my Father still pays his own bills, decides what stocks to buy, what doctors to see, what medications to not take and what books he reads on tape. He travels to Minnesota for a grandchild’s wedding, New Orleans for another Grandchild’s graduation and to Calgary, Canada for a distant cousins wedding, all in one year. He speaks his mind and makes his own decisions.
My Father always leaves any conversation with a long joke that he tells very well. It is his gift. He wants to make sure he leaves a giggle as his way of saying thank you, “I was here.” When my Father leaves, and the smile is still plastered on my face; paused in amazement at his ability to remember the long joke and get the timing of the punch line down perfectly, it feels like the trace of his mental aftershave drifting past the thoughts in my brain. “That’s my Dad,” I say to myself.
I know inherently within the encouragement of ‘the ticket’, my Father was saying the unsaid. He was also saying that anything unpleasant that could come my way from risking ‘buying the ticket’ would be something I could handle. He believed in me. He knew I could do it no matter what the challenge. Plus, it would be fun and make a good story.
He was the reason at 22 yrs old, I traveled around Europe, on my own for 3 months on $5oo and only a Fodor’s guidebook and a Eurail Pass
, taking life as it comes. I bought ‘the ticket’.
The FunUsual Funeral symbol for my Father, for me, will be a ticket.
All tickets will bring him to life in my everyday world: a lottery ticket
, a ticket to the movies, a ticket on a trolley, a ticket to a play or concert
. And with the experience I will have my Father in my pocket, and he will be with me when I attend these events, He will be part of my experience. And, if I was planning my Father’s funeral, I would leave a lottery ticket on each mourners seat as I eulogized my Father’s legacy, ticket in hand, repeating the words,
“If you never buy the ticket you will never win the raffle.”
There is something about a Father believing in you no matter what your course, or dream or mistake. Having someone who knows you can find your way no matter what, gives confidence and increases my willingness to risk take, to live life fully. My Father did that for me. And for that, Dad, I thank you.
Happy Father’s Day.
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