A dear friend lost his dad this week – his dad was 94.
With his passing in sight, his five children were able to come together and say their final good-byes before the end came.
My friend and I reminisced about him over lunch today.
His dad grew up on a Pennsylvania farm. While a child, his dad's father had steady work with the railroads, so the Depression didn't take too big a toll on him and his family during his teenage years.
He played on the various teams at his high school, later on regaling his children with tales of his athletic exploits, probably in classic 'the older I get, the better I used to be' fashion.
When World War II broke out he served in the Navy, and helped preserve freedom for the world as part of the Greatest Generation.
After the war, he stayed out west and settled down. He and his wife raised two daughters and three sons.
As my friend and I ate our lunch, I wondered aloud if he had placed his dad on the same larger-than-life pedestal that I realized I had put my own dad on when mine passed almost thirty years ago.
He smiled knowingly as he told me that he had.
Funny thing, I said, as here we are, both of us around sixty, knowing full well that the term 'average guy' couldn't apply more to us, yet with the perspective that only time can give, we both understand now that we neither invented nor perfected the state of being an average guy – that our dads had long ago beaten us to the punch.
I've long held that one of the hardest things to do in life is to see ourselves as others see us. Mirrors can only do so much. They can't project the vast array of emotions people ascribe to us.
Maybe it takes the passing of one's dad to be reminded of the exalted status you felt toward him when you were a child.
And maybe the passing serves as a reminder that our kids hold us in that same high regard, whether we think we deserve it or not.
Rest in peace, Mr. Archipley.