Apparently David Bowie did it. The New York Times reported on January 11, 2016 that the rock icon “died peacefully.”
In fact, I’ve noticed that the phrase “died peacefully” crop ups up frequently in eulogies and obituaries. “John Doe died peacefully, surrounded by his family.” So perhaps it shouldn’t have taken me so off-guard when someone leaned in and probed, “Did your dad die peacefully?”
I stood there dumbstruck, unsure how to answer. I had just come through a grueling nine days of bedside vigils. I wasn’t sure what the intent of the question was – did he want to know whether my dad looked serene at the actual moment of death? Was he grasping to find out if my father’s dying process was comfortable and “easy?” Was he somehow trying to ease the sting of his own grief by receiving an affirmative answer?
The double doors slammed. There was a pause, and then the familiar shuffling of dragging, uncooperative feet. Soon Clarence would round the corner into the airiness of the camp lodge’s lobby. First he would make a beeline to the three garbage cans and fish with his gnarled hands for pop cans. Then he would awkwardly pour coffee from the big metallic urn and carry the steaming stryofoam cup to “his” table.
I had watched this ritual virtually every day for over a year, and I knew that the finale was approaching when his broken gait carried him to my receptionist’s window. He leaned closer to my desk and waited for me to catch his eye. As I looked into his face that seemed to carry such haunting sadness and pain, it brightened with the most delightful grin. Continue reading →
I’m my own worst critic. Part of the problem is that I’m there to witness every one of my mistakes! Sometimes I attempt something and fail to perform as well as I think I could have. Other times I berate myself because I think I should have done something but didn’t even try. Either way, I am well-acquainted with that voice in my head that loves to remind me that I’ve fallen short.
That pesky internal companion has pressured me to perform “perfectly” since I was very young. As a child, I was driven to get straight A’s. My parents never overtly demanded honor roll achievement. Yet looking back, I recognize that they were perfectionists in their own right, whether it was striving for flawless Christian behavior, plowing the straightest corn rows, or keeping an immaculate house. I definitely inherited the perfectionist gene. Continue reading →