Sued51's Blog











{July 2, 2012}   Living an Extraordinary Ordinary Life

For Father’s Day I worked on a photo collage of my father. Since he died, I think about him almost every day. My mother and I talk about how she meets people at the pharmacy, bank, and senior center that say they still miss him. He was the light in a lot of people’s average days.

My father drew cartoons his whole life; he carried more than a few in his pocket that he could whip out at any time and show people. He never had them published; he was too busy taking care of his family and living life. At the wake, we displayed a notebook full and people lined up to look at them. Since he’s been gone we have found countless poems written on scraps of paper and the backs of envelopes; they were never published. The last few years of his life, he tried writing down his stories; he said he was working on his memoirs. He never finished them.

One of my biggest fears has always been that I would repeat his life, that I would be filled with regret for not doing what I wanted to do and not fulfill my potential. He had his moments — his poems reveal it — when he felt regret and disappointment. Yet my father did a lot during his 84 years. He saved several people’s lives by being at the right place at the right time and not hesitating to act: a neighbor who cut his leg with a chainsaw; an older man who slipped underwater at the gym pool. At his funeral I talked about how he cared for a neighbor’s dog that got hit by a car, and how I remembered his feeding a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest with an eye dropper. Stray animals always seemed to end up at our door; if they didn’t find a home there, my father would find them a home somewhere else.

He made a lot of people laugh; he was adored by his family. What I have been thinking a lot about lately is that he lived an extraordinary ordinary life. I ponder how many people’s lives the “average” person touches during their lifetime? I wonder how many lives my father touched in his lifetime as an “average” man? How many “meaningful” interactions does a “lifetime” include? There are so many factors. Some people choose professions that are inherently influential: teachers, nurses, or ministers. My father was an office worker for most of his life, and yet, wherever he went he made friends. He interacted with bank tellers, cashiers, and waitresses; he made their day with his jokes, warmth, and friendliness.

I’m over halfway through my life and I haven’t saved any; I don’t think I have it in me (I’m not rational under pressure). I’ll never live up to him in that way. Although I am family-oriented, I don’t have my own family. I do know I have touched some lives because people have told me (some complete strangers that I did something for without thinking about it, others acquaintances that I wrote poems for). I’m at an evaluating time in my life: old dreams have died and new dreams seem elusive.

Though I sometimes feel I have more of my father’s faults than his attributes, I now recognize it is worthwhile to aspire to be him and not dread it. We can’t all be movie stars, writers, or teachers, but we can all aspire to live an extraordinary ordinary life.

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Giovanni says:

A lovely and endearing tribute to your father.

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sued51 says:

Thank you, I will always miss him.

________________________________

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Paula says:

Hi S. I can’t see your name here or your age, but I guess it is not that relevant. I appreciate having read this.. it shows not only that you miss someone very dear to you but your contemplation on your life and achievement… I have a few thoughts on the subject myself… you father did live his potential… being published is not what matters (have you read Paul Auster’s Book of Illusions? – I strongly recommend it -I have a review on it in one of my book posts – not that I am pushing you to read it. Your Dad lived his life and to his potential cause he left this world being loved and still is …. this is more than many of us will have. I lost my Dad when I was 19, and he was only 44, and this post touched me. My best, Paula

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sued51 says:

Paula,
Thank you very much for your comment and the book suggestion. I have not read it, but I will look for it on my Paperback Swap! Sorry you lost your dad so young; that must have been very difficult for you. 😦

I am truly blessed to have had him around for so long.

Sue

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Bonnie says:

What a beautiful tribute to your father. I adore the picture!!

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sued51 says:

Thanks, Bonnie. He was always joking around so we have lots of fun pictures like this. I miss him.

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What a lovely post. I lost my dad seven years ago this month, and I think of him all the time.

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sued51 says:

Thanks for your comment. I don’t think we’re ever supposed to stop missing someone, just miss them in a different way.

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rfljenksy says:

Awesome tribute.. my mom passed away about 6 years ago now. It’s true you never stop missing them. It’s the exact reason I took my last vacation and drove with my dad from Washington to Wyoming and Colorado.. it was an amazing trip and I’m glad I did it. Great post

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sued51 says:

My condolences…Those memories mean so much. I was living in TN and moved home for the last year of my father’s life…so glad I did.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment!

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rfljenksy says:

Good for you.. sometimes a person can spend all of their lives questioning themselves on what they should or shouldn’t do to one day just waking up and realizing that decision has been made for them…

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Teju says:

Broke my heart! Please accept y heart felt condolences…

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sued51 says:

Thank you…as you can tell, I loved my Dad a lot!

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[…] I’ve written about my father a lot on this blog.  No need to go further. […]

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Thank you so much for sharing this with me. Our fathers sound a lot alike. My Dad wrote down poems as well, we found them in his wallet and in his dresser. What a lovely human being your father was, touching so many lives like he did. Now that a life fully lived!! Loving the title and would live to make it my goal in life, if I may borrow it?!

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sued51 says:

Curious,
Thanks for reading it and commenting. Thanks for sharing that your Dad wrote poems too. How interesting!
Of course you may borrow the title. 🙂

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