This I Learned From My Father’s Death

My father died broke and alone about four months ago, busted financially and in spirit. He hated this world in his last days, and many times told me he welcomed his demise.

If you had met him ten or thirty years ago he was on top of the world; He had worked very hard to build a successful career in Auto Sales Management, even owned his own flourishing business He was a great man of business.

He sadly possessed a view that the world was corrupt, so you had to take what you could get. Season this with a sprinkle of Male Italian entitlement and mistrust, and you can taste his downfall by 65. In the final months I would visit him and he’d stare silently out the window as college basketball flashed on the screen. In lucid moments he would share an encyclopedic mind, lecturing me on each collegiate division and most of the important players. It revealed that his intellect was still top-notch, but nobody was there to hear it.

He was a mentor to many people, both in business and wisdom, as his compassion for those struggling to prove their worth, as he had done before, flowed naturally. His game was to declare that he didn’t have to play your game to be a success.

Years of anxiety, struggle and seething self-doubt ravaged him, and he battled these with great fervor. Yet in time, when a man’s strength wanes and he has no heart left to prove he’s right, he gives up the struggle, and hates the world for not recognizing his greatness. The world doesn’t want him anymore, and all those bridges he burned personally now seemed endless chasms, and he was alone. The man who cut his bones on charming the world, in his last days, had nothing.

He is not unique. If we come to the end alone in a small apartment, the years of neglect roosting in our chest and lungs and heart and souls, it is all worth nothing. The struggle is just a game, and if you take it to heart you’ll lose your worth. Maybe we all die alone.

Even a compassionate man, a mentor, dies questioning life, and soon after the flowers that adorned his casket are tossed into the woods his life becomes just an obituary to all but the few closest to him, and even they, in coping with the loss, have to learn to forget some of him lest the pain overwhelm them.

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