Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Paying Respect

When my father retired, he retired his real clothes and his real shoes. He lives now in sneakers, shorts (sweats when it's cold) and t-shirts. For church, he wears pants with a zipper and a polo shirt. Maybe a sweater. For funerals, he has a black polo shirt and black pants and black sneakers. He thought he was done with dress clothes.

Until a couple of days ago.

In his heyday, my dad was a man about town. He knew everyone there was to know in government and business around here. He was a reporter and a salesman. He moved up in his company until he was president of his division, which put him in contact with people like the Governor and Bob Hope. Dad was no slouch in the who-you-know game.

As Dad was coming up in the world, there was another guy, a little younger, who was also a rising star. His star rode his shrewdness in business and his honesty in his dealings and carried him to wealth and stature in the community - and no one ever begrudged it to him because he got it the right way. He had friends and family and all the time in the world, that guy.

Until a couple of days ago.

It was a freak accident. One of those that occurs in a split second of inattention. It was in the paper the next day, but the victims of this accident weren't named. However, the location of the accident was a dead giveaway for those in the know - like Dad. He prayed that it wasn't who he thought it was... but it was.

Dad was a bear all yesterday. He gets like that when he's deeply upset. When I talked to Mom, she told me he was. She also told me that he bought a white dress shirt.

That's how much this man meant to my father. Dad put aside his comfortable clothes and even his comfortable funeral clothes to don the pants, shoes, dress shirt and tie to go pay his respects to an exemplary life.

Afterwards, he called and asked me to go to lunch with him.

As we sat and ate, he regaled me with stories. He wept a little, laughed a lot, and got philosophical. And when lunch was over, he strode out to his truck, ready to get on with the rest of his day. The rest of his life.

Because things like this happen sometimes. And the older you get, the more often it does. I don't think you ever get used to it. It's begun to happen to me and it's always a shock. My friend died. We're so young! How can that be? And I realized today, that those feelings never go away, no matter how old you get. It is always a shock to the system.

Then you put on your dress shirt and go pay your respects.


Sandcastle Momma said...

I'm so sorry for your Dad's loss. What a man that must have been for your Dad to put his suit back on. That says a lot about his friend's character. I hope I can leave a legacy like that when my time comes.

It is a shock when friends our age die isn't it? I read the obits every morning and used to see my friend's parent's names - now I'm seeing more and more people my own age. That's definitely motivation to live each day to it's fullest.

grace said...

I am sorry to read about your Dad's loss. He must have meant a lot to your dad.

Your dad sounds like a very fun guy

Patience said...

When someone we consider young, which is basically the same age as we are, it forces us to confront our own immortality. Not that we don't realize that we're not gonna be walking around on this dirt forever. But until something happens to make us remember, we can move that fact to the nether parts of our brain.

Condolences to your father.

nikki said...

I am very sorry for your dad's loss. This was wonderfully written.

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