Fourteen years ago this week, my 68-year-old father told his wife that he was very happy with his life — he loved his three children, had rich friendships, and was looking forward to working from home after years of going to an office. Then he went to sleep and died. I am pretty sure that was not what he had planned.
Daddy’s sudden death in 1997 was a huge shock for obvious reasons (relatively young, in pretty good shape) but also because I thought we wouldn’t have to worry about his health – much less his death – for at least five more years. He’d had a successful heart valve replacement in 1987 and the doctors said the valve would probably last for 15 years – roughly until the year 2002. Somehow I had convinced myself we were worry-free until then. His early death was not what I had planned.
A Funeral Brings A Wedding
Flying home to my father’s funeral, my husband asked me to marry him — definitely not what either one of us had planned. We’d been dating for two years, and it was understood yet unspoken that we would wed. But the logical timing was at least 18 months away. My husband was still in college, having gone back to school as a mature student, and the sensible order was graduation then marriage. In the face of mortality, however, being sensible sometimes makes no sense.
My father had a favorite essay, “The Station”, by Robert J. Hastings, which tells us the true joy of life is the journey, not the plans we make along the way. Daddy sent me the essay several times over the years, in the hopes I’d get the point. He’d be thrilled I’m sharing it with you.