Six years ago today the world lost a great man. Oh, he wasn't famous. In fact, he wasn't a man who would be considered great by the majority of the population. But that doesn't make him any less of a great man.
He was born a sickly baby in a little house in a poor suburb of Detroit, where his mother kept him in a box by the stove to keep him warm. But his beginnings aren't the most important parts of his life, they are just his beginning.
His story was never about overcoming adversity, although he did in so many ways. It was about living your life the way you choose to live it, and ending it the same way. It was about thumbing your nose at hardship, and at what other people think of you. Mostly though, it was about hard work. Lots of hard work. And some hard play.
I could tell you all about the hardships, and the glories. For instance, he was a veteran of two wars, though he never saw action in either. He was politically active, though he never ran for anything other than the school board of his city. He and his wife raised five fine children to adulthood, and then like all good parents, let them go to lead their own lives.
In 1980, the sickly baby part of his past caught up with him. After all his years of life, and all the years in the military, they finally figured out the reason behind his childhood weaknesses. His heart was deformed.
Maybe the weakness of his physical heart was what made his mental heart that much stronger.
He survived that part of his life, too. Over the years, he survived too many other maladies to name. He shrugged and took each of them as they came. "Heaven won't have me, and hell is afraid I'll take over." - the phrase fit him to a tee, and tickled him when his spirits were low. He outlived all of his siblings, and many of his friends. And when the end came, he not only chose it, he welcomed it.
A well-deserved rest for a man who had endured so much, seen so much... lived so much.
So today, in honor of this man - my father - I encourage you all to celebrate life. One of the last things my father said to me was that he was looking forward to fishing with his own father. I can imagine him somewhere with the grandfather I never met, throwing back a few beers, swapping fish stories and drowning worms. Today, get out there... Have a drink. Catch a fish. Do whatever makes you happiest to celebrate being alive. Just like he always did.
Me? I write books, and sing songs, and enjoy the birds. I'm living my life in my own way. Just like my father would've wanted.
This one's for you, Dad. I wouldn't be here without you.
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