My father had a good and honorable life.
If you knew my father you already know he and my mother to be very compassionate and capable. You probably know that he took on great responsibilities and handled the challenges of life with dexterity. He was a gifted student when young but he fell ill and was ill for many years and could not complete his education. But, through hard work, he was nevertheless successful; actually twice in their lives my father and mother overcame challenges and rose up from poverty–the second time was when our family had to start over again in the US, after escaping Idi Amin’s Uganda, and spending an uncertain year in a refugee camp.
If you knew my parents you know that they helped and influenced many lives; not just their children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, but also younger brothers and sisters and their families, and friends.
If you know my parents you know that in better times they gave back generously. Many of us have lived in or visited the house at 44 Clover Drive, the house in which my parents lived for 40 years. Whenever I went there I had an immediate feeling of being home, being safe, being comfortable. There was always traffic in that house; many people have lived in the house; many came to ask for advice and help.
We know these details of my father’s life–that he was courageous, compassionate, and wise; he influenced many lives; and set an example for the rest of us.
But what is it that made my father live such an exemplary life?
This is something which I am just beginning to learn myself. I think we have a choice–we can choose love or we can choose fear. In everything I do, I think, I feel, I decide or not decide, I now know that I can choose to do, or not do, from love or from fear.
More often than not, my father chose from love.
And his choosing love over fear–the results of that are very clear. Many people in this room, including me, owe a great deal of our well-being to my parents.
The Dalai Lama said: live a good life, so that you can look back in later years and enjoy your life all over again. I can say with certainty that my father and mother can look back at their lives, and enjoy them all over again!
Even in his final days, my father chose love; he chose compassionate courage. I could tell three days before he passed, that he had surrendered. He had decided compassionately and courageously that it was time to leave his ailing body. He could not verbalize this, but the close family who were with him, could tell that he had embraced what was happening. And his courage made it easier for us to decide to let him go in comfort and peace.
My father led a good and honorable life. I will miss that I can no longer interact with the mind and body who was my father; I can no longer ask for advice or tell him about my life or hear his wisdom. But I am also happy. I do not believe that we ever actually perish. I do not know exactly what happens on death but I see clearly that we can never cease to exist. Death is not permanent; it is life which is temporary; and so I am happy that my father had a full, compassionate, and courageous life, and now he is free of his ailing body.
In these times, it is easy to forget that my father was the man he was because of my mother’s love and encouragement for 58 years. The last year in particular has been very difficult; and yet my mother has been devoted, tireless, and positive. We as a family are very lucky that many of us were able to see my father and say good-bye to him in recent months; and we are lucky that my father was able to personally express his love and thanks to my mother for her selfless care.
My father had a great and honorable life; and now he is free.