Sidney W. Maxey, Jr.
February 20, 1940 - November 7, 2009
You were once a presence full of light upon this earth,
and I am here to witness to your life and to its worth.
--the Mountain Goats
My father passed away yesterday a little more than a month after he suffered a severe heart attack. The days that followed were mostly spent in hospitals. There would be promising news one day, discouraging news the next. Earlier this week, I was certain he would still be coming home, definitely not to the same life he'd lived before, but at least healthy enough to sit in his recliner and talk to people.
Dad's great gift was his ability to talk to anyone. There were no strangers in his world. It wasn't just that he would go up to people and start talking to them. There was some strange pull he had that caused complete strangers to navigate through crowds to find him in order to strike up a conversation. There was just something about his face that said, "Talk to me," and people responded to this.
My cousin Tony told me on the phone last night that, due to a variety of factors, he wouldn't be able to make it to the funeral on Tuesday. But, he said, while he wouldn't be able to be there for his death, he felt fortunate to have been there for his life. And, I think that's mostly what I'm feeling today. A sense of loss, yes, but also a sense of gratitude that I got to spend time with Dad when he was alive. I fished by his side, ate dinner with him in restaurants, held drywall while he set the nails, went swimming him, handed him wrenches while he worked on cars, pulled weeds with him in his garden, and sat on the couch with him watching television.
Dad had one moment to die. But he had 69 years to live. I'm here to tell you, he lived it well, and well-loved.