My Dad (September 15, 1939 - November 7, 2016)
My mom and dad met in 1963. My mom was a Senior in College and most of her sorority sisters were engaged to be married. Before going out to a party one night, they said, "Barbara, you have to find a husband." She met my dad that night; he was 2 years older than her and in medical school; they were married 6 months later.
Interestingly, I don't know much about his 22 or so years before he met my mom. I know he had a brother, he worked in a flower store, and he went to Brooklyn Tech High School which was apparently a prestigious thing.
I guess it makes sense that in my mind, my parents' lives mainly started when they met each other. My dad loved life. He had a childlike excitement about the world. I remember riding around in his Cadillac convertible; him wearing a big straw hat and us singing Beach Boys songs together (badly). I loved skiing with him; he seemed to come alive on the mountains. While in the stillness of the hills and snow, he taught me many life lessons; among them: "always ski the lift lines", and "there's no such thing as a last run."
He and my mom worked hard, and they created a nice life for us. I remember when I was a teenager, he and I went shopping. I tried on a pair of pants that I liked. He said, "buy one in each color!" He wanted us to be happy and not to feel scarcity.
I know he was proud of me. I can vividly remember the look of pride on his face when he sat through a graduation ceremony for me or one of my siblings.
My dad loved the family that he created. Once my brother, sister and I were grown, my parents would cherish the times when we all came "home" wherever that was. At their house in Newport Beach, they had a Japanese folding screen as a decorative piece in the living room. Before we all came home for Thanksgiving one year, they had cut out all 5 of our faces and pasted them onto 5 of the Japanese figures; they delighted in waiting to see which one of us would notice it first. I don't remember who did. Another time, they had devised a plan where at some point during the family gathering, one of them would say, "Just remember this", and then the other would say, "A kiss is just a kiss." He and my mom created a playfulness about life.
Another one of my dad's loves was business. He loved developing business ideas and hearing other people's business ideas.
My dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness in May 2016. Doctors estimated that he had about 6 months left to live. My mom went into a care-taking role. As his disease progressed, so did his needs, and she was right by his side as she had been for the past 53 years. I started spending more time at their condo - being with my dad and relieving my mom a bit.
I'm not sure I ever envisioned what it would be like when a parent is dying. If I had, I would have thought it would be like some Hollywood fairytale where the adult child sits down with the dying parent, hears their stories, hopes and dreams. This didn't happen for my dad and I. Fuck you, my mythical Hollywood.
Myron Harold Marshall died peacefully at home with my mom by his side about 6 months after his diagnosis. We should all be so lucky.
A few weeks after he died, my mom gave me a copy of a letter that he had written to her in 1992. This letter described his wishes for after his death - cremation, no funeral, and a small family gathering at some point. Also, in this letter, he says, "Sometime later, if you bought a homeless person some fresh and good food, that would be a great tribute." This touched me so deeply. My dad always had a wonderful way of giving food to homeless people. He would say something like, "Please, could you do me a favor and take this food? I really can't take it and I don't want it to go to waste. Thank you. You are doing me such a favor."
A short time after reading that letter, Scott and I had an adventure day in San Francisco ending with Chinese food from Loving Hut. After we ate, we bought a to-go meal, walked to Bart, and gave it to a homeless man on the way.
May my dad's name be for a blessing.