This past week was the five year anniversary of my father passing away.
My dad was 82 years old when he died, peacefully passed away in his sleep, with no significant health concerns, and had a family that loved him. Our last words to each other in our final conversation were, “I love you.” I miss him terribly, but if I could choose a way to die, that would be it.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle without him and that my life hasn’t changed significantly. The pain isn’t the same as it once was, but I am forever changed.
I write this all while I sit in a hotel in Athens, Greece, the country my dad immigrated to Canada from. I think about how different things are in this country from when he left. I can get around quickly with google maps, order food from my computer or phone, and have a ton of options and suggestions for places to eat on Yelp. Obviously, they are good and bad things in every place in the world, but I remember coming here when I was a child, and they didn’t have indoor plumbing at our relatives’ place of residence.
As I grabbed some food from the hotel lobby, a teacher from Lebanon, came up to me and said they appreciated my work. Their kind words humbled me but then I went to my room and cried, wondering what my dad would think. A teacher from Lebanon, recognized an educator from Canada, in a hotel lobby in Greece, my parents’ home country where I have the blessing to be able to keynote. I thought about what my dad would have felt of that interaction, and I know he would have been blown away by how the world has become so small.
My mom and dad, worked tremendously hard to ensure their children could live a life of purpose. A life of purpose doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the hard stuff. I have argued that it makes the hard stuff more tolerable. This quote from Dan Pink sums it up beautifully:
The goal of education, as was the goal of my parents, is to help create opportunities for those that they serve to live a life full of purpose that was better than the generation prior. It is to empower those we serve to create something better than what we have experienced ourselves, not to merely “fit in.”
My parents did so much for my siblings and me with so much less than I have today. This does not mean that I haven’t screwed up along the way or am not profoundly flawed. I am focusing on doing the best with what is in front of me and taking advantage of the opportunities that my parents, as well as my teachers and coaches, gave to me.
I think about this all of the time…We know better, we have access to better, so we need to do better.
I am always in awe thinking of how my parents did so much with so little, to help their children find their purpose. With what we have access to today, I know we can do so much more. Not only for our students but for each other as adults.
Miss you dad. Thank you for everything that I didn’t realize you were doing until way later in life.
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