My father died at 3:00 P.M. on October 18, 2019, after battling the ravages of a life well lived. He requested no funeral, no obituary and no carrying on about him being dead.
Well…I am going to piss him off — yet again and talk about a man that I came to love, understand and respect.
Even though he didn’t want as he would say – any of that shit of carrying on about him, I need to talk a little about my father. I will write about him here, share a bit about him and shed a few more tears, before I move on with the rest of my life.
However, out of respect for his wishes I will keep it short and mostly sweet.
He claimed to be a simple man, but in reality he was probably the most incredibly complex person I have ever known in my life. My father was no saint by any stretch of the imagination, but he was a good man.
While he made many mistakes in his life, he didn’t back down from owning them and didn’t attempt to sugar coat the outcomes that happened.
One of the qualities that I loved and hated the most, (especially when I was on the receiving end) and I know I was not alone, was his brutal honesty about almost everything and it didn’t much matter if you were family, friends, local bigwigs or complete strangers. He told you exactly where you stood and what he thought about what was going on.
The things I learned about him over the years as a result of our conversations would surprise many people. While he described himself as an uneducated idiot who never finished 8th grade (which was true). However, he was more intelligent and had a depth of knowledge about a wide variety of subjects that many people with much more formal education would be found sadly lacking.
However, you had to get past his initial bombast he used as a way to check you out and test your resolve, to find out how sophisticated his knowledge of subjects actually was.
Then again, many times you had to figure out whether he was simply “stirring the pot” and taking a contrary position on subjects, which was one of his favorite pastimes and did much more often than people realized, just to keep things interesting – for him.
I know, because we had many discussions on a variety of topics that went well beyond the typical shallow talks that most people have on topics that are uncomfortable, controversial, political and yes, religious. He was the one person I could talk frankly and completely honestly to about anything.
There is so much more I could write about, how he was so proud of his children (all of us) and grandchildren, his hunting prowess, and so many other things that we took for granted, but I said that I would keep this short, so let’s wrap it up.
While I sat in his hospital room Thursday night and watched him interact family and friends for the last time, I was proud to be his son.
Even though he was dying that night, he did it knowing that his time was done, but that he had lived a good life and with Dad being himself to the end. We all sat around the room, with a lot of laughter, many stories being told, but best of all he was surrounded by his family and yes, he kept asking the score of the Yankees game. The one time I wanted the damn Yankees to win a game.
When he took his final breath on Friday afternoon, it was all those things that happen when someone you love dies by those who remain behind. At the same time I was also relieved that Dad was no longer in pain and reunited with his true love, my mom – the day after what would have been her birthday.
My father, who’s name I share – Harold Leighton Shaw is now dead and those of us who loved him will miss him terribly.
Good night Dad, sleep the long sleep well.
As you told me the last time we were together before you went in the hospital, I will live my life well and enjoy the hell out of it.