Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday musings…10/25/2020: Dad’s Memorial

Sunday musings…

1 Anecdata. Anecdotes (stories) strung together as if they were objective data from a scientific study. Presently driving an inordinate amount of dialog on social media as well as more traditional information sources. 

Should be a word.

2 Disgust. Once again, the only word to describe my emotional response as I sit over my absentee ballot (we have voted this way for almost 10 years; I can’t predict my availability on any day whatsoever, let alone voting day). I felt exactly the same way 4 years ago. This is the best our two major parties can do? These two? Really? This is what I get to choose from? 


3 Simple. My daily life is rather public. By that I mean that I am directly interacting with multiple people who are not in my friendship circles, and through multiple venues I am placing who I am (professionally) in the public sphere. Part of my interaction each day is answering my patients when they ask me, quite sincerely, how I’m doing. My answer, at least up until a couple of weeks ago, was “OK enough”. 

No longer. 

Why? Well, it’s all about perspective, right? Even my original answer “OK enough” was about perspective. I had no real worries. I was employed and had work, my family and I were all healthy, and in many ways I was driving at least my own local bus routes. Still, I was obviously trying to convey a sense that it wasn’t really OK. Not really. My reality was a kind of different that was somehow less than OK. Objectively I could point to all of the really fun stuff Beth and I had planned to do to mark my 60th birthday and our 35th wedding Anniversary. I could reference how my speaking and consulting work had disappeared. 

But my seemingly diminished daily life led itself to the analysis that free time affords. In that respect it became very obvious that my life was not really diminished at all. It was not a small life in any respect. What it had become was simple. I had once again been living a simple life, one not unlike that which we enjoyed—truly enjoyed—when our children were school age. When our kids were K-12 I did pretty much what I do now: go to work, then go home. For some 15 or so years I did the barest minimum of professional travel necessary to maintain my medical license and not one minute or mile more. 

My industry buddies called it “D. White’s sabbatical”. 

There was nothing about my life that was small. Just like now. My life is simple. Straight forward. But it’s hardly small. I am surrounded by people who care about the minutes of my day in the same way they did 15 or 20 years ago. At work I do what I’m supposed to do, take care of each individual patient who sits in front of me. And then I go home. I go to the best place in the world. The place where who I am as cherished for no other reason than that: I am who I am. Simple, but hardly small. 

You could make a case that no life could possibly be larger.

4 Memorial. Today my family marked 5 years without my Dad. Today was the 5th annual mass held in memory of my Dad, Richard E. White. Dad passed away on October 10, 2015 at 8:30 in the evening. He died peacefully in the company of my Mom, one of my sisters, and a couple who had been among my parents’ closest, most loyal friends. My Dad was terrifically afraid to die. In a beautiful moment of grace, he was the only one in the room who didn’t know it was happening. 

My parents have been very observant Catholics forever. To mark my Dad’s passing Mom offered a mass each October and designated it a “must attend” performance for my siblings and me. “Your father would have wanted this.” Nonsense. My Mom wants this. My Dad would have been delighted if his offspring (and perhaps their offspring, his grandchildren) got together for a meal, maybe after playing a round of golf, perhaps one that included his favorite wine Chateauneuf du Pape. The mass thing is all about Mom. 

Still, I am sad that I am not there. 

Not guilty, mind you. No, the fact that each of us realizes that it’s all about Mom frees me from whatever guilt I may once have felt. We’re all a bit put out about the whole grand performance part of this. We all miss my Dad every single day. There’s no difference today. My brother was very eloquent as he expressed this. Yesterday was terrible because Dad wasn’t here. Last week, last month, last year. We miss Dad every day. Today is no different for us when it comes to missing Dad. We miss him every single day. 

So, no guilt, just sadness, because it would be nice to see my siblings and my Mom. Absent this whole pandemic thing I would have gotten on a plane, been all kinds of put out because of the rigidity of the experience, but on the plane nonetheless. I’m sad that I’m not. I’m sad because my Mom would have been happier if I’d been there. Sad because I really like being with my brother and my sisters. But in the end just as sad today as I was yesterday, and as I will be tomorrow, that my Dad is gone. Today is just the latest today that I will not hear his voice, feel his embrace, know that he would be there to do whatever a Dad needs to do for a son whenever he might need to do so.

No guilt because I’ve said again and again “I love you” to my, people including my Mom. I’ve done what my friend Bill has long counseled, saying what needs to be said long before there’s no one there to say it to. When my Dad’s day came, I had no peace to make; my Dad knew I loved him. But still, though I’ll have no peace to make or saying left unsaid, sad because today forces me to think about a day when I will miss both a Dad AND a Mom. 

It’s simple, really. Life is smaller when your Mom and Dad aren’t there to live it with you.

I’ll see you next week…

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