The End of One Story
In honor of my late mother-in-law’s birthday today, and the 7th anniversary of my dad’s passing, I’d like to share this short final chapter from Organizing for The Spirit:
A man of ritual, routine, and regularity, my father opened my biweekly email newsletters at precisely 11:00 on Saturday mornings. It didn’t matter that he had been up since 5:00 or that I usually sent them before 10:00; his time to check his mail was 11:00. Period.
My dad passed away suddenly on May 7, 2003. Fortunately, I was with him, in town to help my folks out after my mother’s mild stroke three weeks previous. Even though he had survived a massive heart attack twenty-two years before and four subsequent cardiac arrests, it came as a shock that it was finally his time to go.
As I contemplated writing my next newsletter, I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that my father wouldn’t be sitting at his computer, ready to read it, ever again. But a wise friend told me to write it anyway, because my dad would still receive it – he would simply be at another address.
My dad was a complex and stubborn man, and that’s probably what kept him alive for so many extra years. He insisted on things being done his way, and only his way, but after his attack he left an impressive legacy of public service through his twenty-two years of volunteer work for many organizations.
The night before the funeral, I lay awake, wondering what exactly I could contribute for my part of the eulogy. My husband told me not to worry, that somehow my dad would “tell” me what to say. The next morning, my mother came to me with an envelope that she had taken from the back of her desk drawer. It read, “To Be Opened Upon My Demise” and was signed by my father. “I knew this was there,” she told me, “but I have no idea when he wrote it.” We opened the envelope, which contained one sheet of paper, with but a single sentence written on it, summing up what he believed to be the purpose of his life.
As my father demonstrated to me, “Organizing for the Spirit” means to become who you really are – to discover what makes you unique and personally powerful so that you can experience the joy of living and sharing your gifts with others. Organizing for the Spirit is a lifelong process of discovery and self-development, and the ultimate personal adventure. As my dad wrote in his final message: “To leave the world a bit better – to know that a life has been changed because you were there – this is to have succeeded.”
It is never too late to become who you are meant to be.