My dad’s memorial was like none I’d ever witnessed. Most memorials have a somber, sacred quality, as family and friends gather to share their fondest memories and essentially saint the loved one who has passed.
Well, we did that.
Because of stories my brother chose to share first, my dad’s very human self was also celebrated.
My sister joined in: “He always wanted us to be safe and would go to great measures to ensure it. Even on my wedding day, we were walking down the carpet laid over grass and he was holding me so tight, talking to me the whole way: ‘Watch out, I already walked this. There’s a hole here. There’s sand there. Don’t slip in those heels. All I have to do is get you to your husband so you’re not my f***ing problem anymore!”
Everyone burst into laughter, undoubtedly remembering similar experiences with him.
“Unless you plugged a toilet,” she continued, “then you weren’t safe. He would come running in and make a big deal out of it: ‘Are you serious? How many times do I have to tell you to flush first and then wipe!?! Turn the water off!’ And he always came in with two plungers. Two plungers? Who does that? I would say, ‘Dad, it’s not that bad. I don’t think you need two plungers!’”
By that time, the room was in tears.
And of course, this led to stories about how he would always buy 2 or more of the items he really liked—golf clubs and shoes, meals, etc.— often with the intention to bless someone else with the extra.
It was so balanced, this remembrance of my dad. It felt like we really honored his whole personality—gifts and quirks alike.
My sister and I had set up a small dinner with our closest friends at my grandma’s house the evening following the memorial. While we were sitting at the table, my sister walked in from—you guessed it!—my grandma’s bathroom with her eyes wide in concern. She caught my attention and motioned for me to follow.
“I plugged Grandma’s toilet and I can’t get it to unclog!”
She was freaking out, like she did when
she was little and Dad came running.
I picked up the plunger she’d been using and gave it a try. “Oh, honey, you need another plunger. This one broke.”
As soon as the words left my lips, I looked up at her wide-eyed.
Did that just happen?
“OMG!” We both fell out in gut-splitting laughter.
“You think Dad is making a point with you right now?” I asked through my attempts to gulp air.
“Yeah, he must be reminding me that there was a method to his madness…”
Yeah, there was a method to his madness of going above and beyond—
a method that is especially easy to see in hindsight:
His regular stops by the store for donuts on the way to school added some sweetness to our time together and an otherwise mundane routine in the mornings (and they also got me to the car on time without a lot of hassle).
His spontaneous trips to carnivals added play and laughter to our relationship (and also gave him the opportunity to teach me some of his human performance stuff and up-level my skills without me even knowing it).
The stuffed animals and “I’m proud of you” notes he left on my pillow now and then were his way of acknowledging that he saw my efforts (and inspiring me to do even more).
The full tank of gas and clean windshields every morning were his ways of keeping me safe (and developed in me the experience of trusting someone to always have my back and be looking ahead for me).
As a result, my siblings and I are all the type who go the extra mile when we can (and sometimes when we shouldn’t – LOL) because we know how good it feels to have someone in your life who is at least ten steps ahead in assessing your needs and desires and focuses on making you feel seen, safe, and supported.
Yep, going above and beyond…it’s all I know because of him…and I’m committed to continuing this piece of his legacy in my relationships and in my work as a messenger.
I want to be remembered as someone who…
…didn’t just do my work every day, but added sweetness that inspired others to savor their work and stay on track.
…didn’t just do fun stuff, but used playful experiences to teach/model.
…didn’t just give gifts, but acknowledged the progress and inspired others to stay at their edge.
…didn’t just deliver programs and retreats, but created experiences that made the participants feel seen, safe, and supported.
…didn’t just do what I said, but always went above and beyond.