The week was the best and the worst. With each passing day I knew this could be the last time I spent this week with my father in this place. The harsh reality of what lay before us more prevalent with each passing hour. I struggled at times to be strong like my father, being a super-hero, it came easier to him then it did to me. I was encouraged by my father’s good humor at each turn, while I watched his body failing him, his mind and spirit remained as strong as ever. My father enjoyed the week completely, never seeming anxious or melancholy. His strength and valor amazed me; he kept true to his super-hero image.
He told me one sunlit morning, as we listened to my children shriek with delight and laughter from the other side of the dune, that he could die in that very moment the happiest man on earth. He told me that I had given him the most precious gift he could ever receive. I laughed, stunned, he had given all of this to me, he started long before I could remember and continued to that very moment. He went on to say that the east end had the most beautiful stretches of beach anywhere in the world. The view for him was magnificent, because it is where he watched his children and grandchildren grow up. He told me of his love for my children, and me, he made me promise to return here each year for always. He told me about what should happen after he passed, and said with his first frown of the week, that the hardest part of knowing you’re dying, is knowing what you’ll miss.
When we packed up at the end of the week, my father was still grinning from ear to ear. Alone, I walked down to the beach, as he and I always had, I added a stream of tears to the ocean, inspired by painful thoughts of future days here without my father. My father endured long enough for us to go back to our house for Columbus Day weekend that same year, we spent four amazing days of making memories we all will treasure for a lifetime. We spent little time on the beach despite the gorgeous weather, spending days on the deck squeezing memories into every moment possible.
My father passed away in November. I was left with the strict instructions he had given me in August. I set out to honor them one by one. We returned for our week in our house in August, and made the best of that first trip without him. We went back again Columbus Day weekend. On a stunning sunlit Saturday, the list of people my father had instructed me to invite gathered at our house in Montauk. We shared pictures and stories and cried until we laughed. After a lunch, of all my father’s favorites, we headed to the harbor and boarded the Miss Montauk. The captain took us to a quiet cove along the ocean, the one where I learned of my father’s diagnosis. It was there that I laid may father to rest. His ashes will forever lap upon the shores of the ocean. Every time I walk toward the rising sun in Montauk, I know my father walks with me. With each new day we welcome at our house I see his smile shining along the shore.
My father wasn’t a super-hero because he possessed super-human powers, but because of how he faced each day of his life. He was a man who taught me all of the important lessons in life. He taught them to me with kindness, humor, understanding, support and gentleness. He showed me true unconditional love teaching me to be brave, strong, loving generous, and kind, just like him, through his actions and deeds. He was someone who always did the right thing whether someone was watching or not, never giving up in the face of true adversity, helping those in need. He was a mentor and an inspiration to more people then he knew and leaves a vast ocean of emptiness in his wake.