On July 30, my dad died.
It wasn't exactly like I didn't know it was coming. He had been going downhill in the last year and COVID didn't do him any favors. He had a number of heart attacks over the decades including a quadruple bypass that he outlived the repair and had to have it done again.
But, knowing it was happening and having it happen are sometimes two different things. For some of us more than others.
I don't know if I have a lot to say about heading over to Michigan to help my brother with getting a memorial prepared, or going through his house realizing I won't see him again, or even seeing family I haven't seen since the last time someone died. It was just a sad conclusion to a novel that has lasted my entire life.
I wouldn't say unsatisfactory though. He was an amazing person. I know a lot of folks would say that about their parents, but a lot would also not. As a kid, I got to say my dad designed nuclear reactors or worked on particle accelerators. I got to see his pictures and photos win awards after seeing them being created before my eyes. He built the family cabin with his father and rode almost every trail in northern Wisconsin. He did so many things in so many fields.
And I'm a product of that. My variety of interests comes from him (and my mom, let's be honest). I'm a son of a scientist and of an artist. The differences were superficial in some regard and infinite large in others.
He is the man would gave me the first nod of approval when I picked up enough C and ANSI color codes in a single day to start coding on my own. I was six and I still can't forget that sound of wonder as I'm trying to get my name to line up in cyan on the page.
He gave me another nod of approval when I excitedly told him I was first published. He wouldn't review it, because no parent should review their children (I also suspect it was because of the content). But he encouraged me to keep writing, even when I “statistically should be selling more” and “I wasn't as bad as some of the other books in the story bundles.”
He didn't really know how to say “I love you” but he tried. It came in lectured and advice. When Partner got lost in the woods one time, he sent them maps the next day with suggestions. When I needed to figure out a math problem, he taught me basic trig even though I was in second grade. He never expected me to be anything other than the best I could.
I inherited that struggle to express emotions. I know how to fake them, but I don't really know how to experience them. His death hit me hard, but I didn't realize it until I was taking control of his GitHub repositories, website, and his software and copying files off his drive. That was the point I started really crying, knowing that he wouldn't be calling me to ask for help with a merge conflict or showing off a new tool he wrote to help manage his heart.
In the end, he made sure we knew that he loved talking to my children and that he was proud of us. He was apologetic for dying in the same year as our mother and was struggling to make sure my brother knew the password to his BitWarden before he passed.
My dad is the inspiration for my exit planning. He was one of the most well-organized people I knew, even when it came to planning out his death. He had his paperwork gather together, his notes distributed and an archived drive with (almost) everything we needed.
He didn't leave many intentions behind. One of them is to publish his memoirs in print. Being that I own a publishing company, we always intended to clean it up and get it ready. I'm going to do that probably in the next few months, with a goal of having a print version by the end of the year.
I'm also going to go through his repositories and add a banner to the read me files to say they are no longer being maintained and making sure they have good licenses (if he didn't already).
At the moment, I'm not okay. I will be, but not right now.
One thing I'm so thankful for: he left the world on his own terms. He's told us everything he could and now it is up to us to do what we will with that.