Thank You…

April 14, 2012


Cancer. The big ‘C’. With a daunting record across all weight divisions, truly an often overwhelming opponent. One of Mother Nature’s greatest bastard son champions, as she reacts to maintain equilibrium. His success due to his distinct lack of the speed and flash of his more glorified brothers and sisters. No, he is more quietly methodical. Insidiously plodding.

Winning the battle is more often than not a matter of knowing when the bell has rung. Decisive victory is more assured with an early, aggressive, “shock and awe” barrage, preventing him from ever really landing any heavy blows. But he’s tenacious if not dealt with in early rounds. You may keep him at bay, building up an impressive string of consecutive rounds won on points, but he is perfectly willing to patiently rope-a-dope, saving enough strength for the final round.

The final bell tolled for my dad eight years ago.

He did the greatest thing he could do for me when that time came. I wonder if he knew the larger implications of what it would mean to me? Sure. He had to.

He said it was OK because he had LIVED. He was one of the lucky ones. A South Dakota farm boy that was able to become most of the things he wanted to be when he grew up. He went around the world on submarines, including the first nuclear models, during a 20 year Navy career. He was able to scuba dive in an ocean or two. He had wild nights in foreign ports of call. He became an officer, perhaps even a gentleman.

He later became a police officer. He went to night school. There were stints in various emergency services, here and there. During his years on the force he progressed from patrol on one of those big, cool motorcycles (looking more Jon Baker than Poncherello) to more plain clothes operations, indoor and out. Even later, he parleyed his knowledge from a lifelong radio hobby into working in communications in both the private and public sector.


My dad was far from perfect, as am I. Don’t get me wrong. He was a good man. He navigated the eccentricities and hypocrisies of American middle class life with a level of sanity and dignity that is to be admired and respected. Hell, probably better than I have. But hearing him express gratitude for the life he had experienced when faced with the end of it was not something I was used to from him. We just hardly ever had those kind of personal, intimate conversations. My God, Dad. I just hope you knew how much that would mean to me ever since.

It takes a while to truly fathom gratitude of that nature for yourself. To be passed that wisdom in a far more intimate context than the platitudes that are too often lobbed at us is priceless.

Year after year, that notion means more and more. And with it a level of personal liberation. It’s OK that I won’t live forever. No matter what happens from here, I’ve been one of the fortunate ones. I’ve been able to navigate, despite my eccentricities and hypocrisies, through an American middle class life with more than I need. I go home to a wife and son that are a true gift, my two best friends. I live in a time frame of truly awesome technology and discovery. Wonder-full…

This time of year has a profound effect on me. But Dad slipped me the key to a door on his way out. I’m making my way down the hall from the room of sorrow and fear back into the living room. Where the only tragedy isn’t that we will die, but that we might not have lived while we could…

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19 Comments on “Thank You…”

  1. Liz DeLoach Says:

    Beautiful. I am deeply moved. Thank you for writing this. I bet it was tough yet also so meaningful to do. Having lost my father many years ago at the tender age of nine to congestive heart failure, I wish I had more memories of him. Having lost many loved ones to cancer, your description of its’ insidiousness and patience really strikes a chord. I wrote a post about my Dad last year on Father’s Day. It was the first time I ever put thoughts to paper (or more accurately in this day and age, fingers to keyboard!). I’m already engaging in the necessary mental gymnastics to write one about my mother this year. That one will wipe me out, too.


  2. 68ghia Says:

    Often, when I’m feeling sorry for myself about my lot in life, I contemplate death.
    And then I realise, I can’t die yet – I still have many things I want to experience, to do – in all, I have not quite lived MY life yet.
    Was just along for the ride on other people’s lives…
    Wonderful post Brett – well worth the read.


    • Brett Myers Says:

      Thanks, jaycee. I’ve had so many ups and downs that I’ve learned to play the long game. The good stuff has definitely made the bad stuff worthwhile, but there have been times I wasn’t sure I’d get there. Please feel free to come along for the ride anytime… ¦-)


  3. kateshrewsday Says:

    Amen. Let’s live life to the full. Your Dad sounds amazing, Brett.


  4. Ann Says:

    An amazing post, about (I am positive) an amazing man. Not sure I could ever put in to words about my father…he passed away right after I married…was tired of being sick, and knew somehow I was going to be okay. Unfortunately, I was not with him when he passed…a memory that haunts me to this day. Thank you, Brett….even though I miss my Dad terribly, I am comforted knowing he lived life to the fullest.


  5. Scott Gregory Says:

    A fine tribute, written as only a son or daughter can do. We all must make that journey. It’s often unfortunate of the vehicle we must take it in. I am not so concerned about the event which is often what we cannot control but I am concerned for those I will leave and the life I will have lead. We should not want to miss one thing if we do not have to.


    • Brett Myers Says:

      One of the things that really helped me turn a corner on this was having my own son. I’ve had my good chances to dance in the sun. Now I like knowing that my main purpose is to make sure he gets his…


  6. nrhatch Says:

    Here’s to living, loving, laughing, and learning! Thanks for sharing.


  7. melouisef Says:

    Yes at a certain age and stage one can say it is OK, it is the quality and not the quantity.
    Go well


  8. Eden Says:

    Brett, you always manage to reach into something deep and heartfelt in your posts, but even when I think you’ve dug down to the soul, you somehow manage to pull out something new. Having seen your posts about your dad on occasion, I knew how multifaceted he was…somewhat. No, not perfect. He was clearly human, but that’s also part of what made him great, wasn’t it?

    Best wishes to you.


    • Brett Myers Says:

      It is, Eden. And it’s something I didn’t really appreciate until I grew up and could fathom how daunting it all can be, sometimes. Thanks very much, Eden. Best wishes to you, too… ¦-)


  9. Suzanne Morris Says:

    Brett, Since my Dad died last March I’ve been trying to put down into words feelings, lessons, memories for Clint to have as he gets older, to remember. I’ve always kept a journal so I’ve been adding them here and there as I remember. You did such a amazing job with this… such a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I really hope I can do the same one day, a tribute/memory for Clint to have, to remember his “Pa” by and keep those memories alive.


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