Earl F. McIntire
I learned last year that I need to stop thinking about death as if it’s always a tragedy. The entire world is temporary and transitory, and everyone. everyone. has to die at some point. Our bodies change from infant, to teen, to middle age, to old age. Our situations in life are constantly morphing and becoming something different from one moment to the next. A life is connected by how it is analogous from one moment to another and as the woman I based my senior thesis wrote
“..if two things shared only one trait, they belonged to each other at the most profound level of their being. Every phenomenal form corresponds in this way with many others, and those with yet others. As a result of this vast latticework of resemblances, the world is one single, throbbing organism.”
The connections between things, people, places, span time and space. And despite Dad’s death, he is still connected to me in a way this way that defies time or place. This is why death is not a tragedy to me because everything is forever and always connected in their analogies.
Tragedy to me is only reserved in how life can span out, in a devastating illness, or forces of oppression. While there may be tragedy in certain things in my father’s life, there is certainly nothing tragic about how my father fought his diseases. How he handled the loss of his legs, how he clung to life with every piece of his being. He fought longer than I think most people could, or would. He made it through to see me graduate from college, one of the proudest days of my life. I will always feel his lessons, his hand in shaping me. He taught me so many countless things and he was always there for me in ways that were so important. Like making sure I knew he cared about my education. He would visit my classroom every Wednesday to be involved directly. My Dad had such a tough, stubborn attitude but never held onto his anger. He still managed to be genuine, sentimental, wistfully innocent, and completely loving while at the same time incapable of accepting defeat, always ready to fight to the last minute. He also always had a sense of humour about everything, something I appreciate so much.
I love astrology-Sun and moon signs, Virgo, Libra, Cancer, Aquarius. Even if it isn’t really real, I love reading it, studying it, thinking about it. It helps me. Dad was an Aries for sure. And as one of my favourite astrologers Linda Goodman wrote
“Aries would rather be caught dead than be caught weak-and some of them literally risk the former to avoid the latter….when you see him confined to bed with little to say, you know he’s really sick. Even so, it may require handcuffs to keep him down. He can survive fever high enough to kill the average person, and many of them are brought on by his head strong Mars tendency to carry through under adverse circumstances…”
This is what I will remember about Dad’s final days, how strong and courageous he was, in dealing not just with his sickness, but all the slings and arrows of life. I only hope that in my own life I can lead by example and tackle life’s problems with such tenacity.
I know it will take me time to feel the different aspects of his death in ways I can’t yet because it’s so fresh. I know that I am him in so many ways, and that I will always feel and know in some sense his presence in all of the rest of my life. So when I get married, if that ever happens, I know he will be there. When I get my first real job, he’ll be proud of me. If I ever get into graduate school, he will be more proud of me than anyone else in the world. And I know no matter what i do my Dad is so proud of me because he always made sure he was my biggest fan and supporter- A support from him that only the Michigan Football team knows.
I will miss him in the smaller, more mundane moments when I can’t call him up at 11 0’clock at night just to chat. Or ask him to go to a matinee with me, even if it is the latest chick flick, something he clearly had no interest in, but would go with me anyway. I know I can’t ask him to take me out to dinner anymore when I have a craving for china gate’s Kung Pao chicken, but even so, he would know it was never really about the Kung Pao chicken, i just wanted to have dinner with my dad. And when I visit Ann Arbor, I know I can’t have him with me anymore. He’ll have to be with me in other ways. Dad always made sure to let me know that he loved me by saying “Have I told you lately that I love you?” I would roll my eyes and say “Yes, dad, you told me yesterday and he would say “Well, I love you, I want you to always know that.” And I always did, and always will.