It’s been a trying week. There are times in life when events bring us to a standstill and we pause to celebrate. Newborns, graduations and weddings play such an important part in our live’s mosaic. So too does death.
My father in law passed away last Monday. He will be deeply missed. Wayne Roelke was a good man. He had so many good qualities that I admire. He was passionate about life; so constantly curious to learn and explore that at times he could wear you out. No current topic or event went unnoticed. Every historical act was worth investigating. He had an insatiable appetite to know, understand and wonder why. Most importantly though he loved to share. He was forever the kid in the neighbourhood calling you over to ‘check this out’!!
Travel, food, wine, reading, music —consumed him. Actually I guess in point of fact, he consumed them. The enemy of course was ”time” because he recognized there was never enough. But that didn’t deter him from trying to turn over one more stone. You just never knew what you might find.
The center of his universe was his family; three amazing daughters and his life partner Kay with whom he shared everything. For Wayne life was about the clan; his clan. He made a point of being present for every activity or celebration that took place. Grandchildren, cousins, nephews, nieces and friends could count on him. He never missed an opportunity to champion their accomplishments. For Wayne, even the most seemingly insignificant activities were to be cheered and he took personal responsibility to make certain that you knew he was with you all the way. Family gatherings were placed at the top of his list; there was no compromise when it came to joining hands and providing support. In his world there was no higher calling.
Having lost my own father, I understand the void of losing your patriarch. It’s indescribable; words fail. There is a deep and overpowering sense of loss. There is a hole that can’t be filled. In a world where so much of what we have can be replaced, there is despair over the finality of it all. The thought of “one more good meal, conversation, evening of laughter and story telling” is all you can think of. Tears come easily and there is anguish over the unfairness of it all. Many of you I know have experienced it.
Reflection is a powerful activity. We all need to take pause along our life paths and think deeply about our experiences. I am no different when it comes to losing sight of what matters in the daily busyness of life. If I were to suggest that I am wiser for then I would openly admit that it’s a temporary state. It’s simply part of our nature to fall back into routine.
My life however, is so much richer for having shared time with men like Wayne and my father. Their memories live on inside of us. Who they were and what they stood for will resonate within me forever. They were powerful role models who caught our attention without saying a word. They were ordinary men who lead extraordinary lives because of who they touched.
So today I’m pausing to reflect. I’m thinking about the difference each of two men made in those around them. I’m turning over in my head how we really measure our lives. I’m reminding myself why it’s so critical to be present for those you love. I’m digesting what fatherhood truly represents. I’m stopping to take stock of what matters most to those I’m blessed to share my life with. I’m recalling some of the moments well spent in their company. Most of all I’m thinking of all the gifts they’ve shared with their children. I know there will be days when I fail to champion their gifts; but so too I am strengthened by the understanding that I will never forget.