Gail Boenning

This is a really lovely and thoughtful piece, Gail. I lost my dad much later in life than you lost your mom, but still way too young (I was 32, he was 53) and for a short time afterwards I felt like I trotted the story out a lot. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself or seeking attention, I think it was just that for a while there, that was the filter I saw everything through. My dad died in a totally random accident (bee stings) and it felt like everything that happened around me was a reminder that life is fickle and, boy, you don’t have to tell me how short life is blah, blah, blah.

I was lucky enough that I had a great relationship with my dad and that perspective made it easier to accept. I know a lot of people who have no relationships with a parent or a sibling, so even though he died, I still had it better than them. (I make it a practice not to meddle in people’s lives, but when I hear that a friend hasn’t talked to a parent for five years or whatever, I usually try to sound a warning alarm to them: YOU NEVER KNOW! DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE!)

By a weird stroke of timing, I met Mitch Albom (author of Tuesday’s With Morrie) shortly after my dad’s death. I talked with Mitch and his wife, mostly about Detroit sports and stuff, but I couldn’t help but mention that I had just re-read Tuesdays after my dad’s death. He and his wife were both incredibly kind and thoughful and we had a nice discussion about it. I normally don’t get all hyped up over feel-good books and such, but if I learned anything from that book, it’s that you have to make the most of the time you have and the people you are with. Because, as one very wise and thoughtful writer put it, the world continues to spin on its axis and circle the sun.

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