Today, I pass on some of the advice I received from my dad before he passed away.
As many of you may know, my dad died on the morning of Christmas Eve. These past several months have brought much self reflection as I have processed the meaning of his death. As to be expected, life appears to be much more fragile to me now. Its ephemeral quality is more apparent.
But yesterday, the questions and unease I felt regarding his death were mysteriously comforted as I chose to think more about his life and the essence of who he was.
Several months before he died I had called him for some advice regarding parenting. My wife and I were perplexed about how to handle a situation in which one of our children had responded in a less than socially appropriate manner and left us in her wake to try and to figure out how to respond. I felt totally unprepared.
My dad just listened. After a while he laughed. As he spoke he recalled how he had done a similar thing when he was young boy. He then laughed more and reminded me that I had also experimented with the same socially apprehensive act when I was a child.
The conversation then turned back to him and his health crisis. We talked for the next 1/2 hour about doctors, hospitals, and treatment plans. We were all business, but before hanging up he turned it all around. He left me with this simple advice:
“Son,” he said, “Go easy on her. Go easy.”
He didn’t need to say anything else. My concern for how to be a “good” and “fair” and “just” parent was trumped by those simple words. I didn’t just hear him say to “go easy on her”, but to also “go easy on myself” and to “go easy on life”.
That was how my dad lived. He knew how to “go easy”. He jumped in the swimming pool still wearing his dress clothes. He laughed when a little league ball smashed his car’s front windshield. And he was lenient on me when I smashed the family car before I had a license.
I am grateful that he knew how to “go easy”. I am grateful that he modeled this behavior to a young boy, a flailing teenager, and a struggling parent.
I hope today that you benefit from his advice.