I was attempting to do a handstand when she called and said he had died. I know it sounds odd but I haven’t attempted a handstand since that morning for superstition’s sake. It will be 7 weeks to the day when I publish these words.
My aunt told me that in his final days he admitted to her that he was “not doing this right.”
When she asked what he meant, he replied “Dying. I don’t know how to die, because I’ve never done it before.” This is the most him statement I had heard in 32 years of knowing him.
When I decided in late 2014 that 2015 would be the year that I would deeply explore time in my writing, I was unaware that I would be doing my exploration without his guidance. I also didn’t know that this particular essay would be my first of those solo expeditions, which I now understand there will be many more of.
I had no idea when I wrote the second essay idea for this series: “Time is confining.” — that months later it would be the writing prompt that would force me to do something I have been avoiding. Dealing with losing my mentor, my friend, my grandfather in the only way I know how. With words. So here I am at my keyboard, crying whilst typing.
As I am certain is always the case in dealing with death (confirmed via many a Google search) — it is normal to feel like your cloak of invincibility has just been stolen away after you lose someone close to you. It’s like we are all walking around pretending we aren’t dying and suddenly the newsfeed of our brain is taken over by the terrorists of grief.
“Time is ticking.” “I could die tomorrow” “How long we have here is completely unknown.” “Everyone I love will die one day”
hyperventilates into paper bag
When people pass away, it is often said that they remain in the hearts of their loved ones. I hadn’t really ever known what that meant before now. To be honest I think I assumed it was more of a Hallmark-ism reserved for awkward exchanges where no one knows what to say.
But instead, I have found this concept to be quite real. Even in writing this, I have felt his influence and heard his words. Because his words, his outlooks, his kind yet thorough way of looking at the complexity around him is now a part of me.
So, what would he say about “time” if I were able to call him right now for advice?
He would tell me to:
Do all of the things. Never let fear dictate your plans, always assume you’ll be there to see things through. Eliminate time wasters from your life. Help others do that same. Don’t turn mole hills into mountains. Conversely, don’t turn mountains into mole hills. Call out the inefficiencies you see, even if it gets you fired (p.s it will probably get you promoted.) Live a life serving people who you love and respect deeply and you will die happy.
I may never be able to fill the hole that is now in my heart but I will never forget what he taught me.
I was fortunate to have spent time with him going through his work portfolio and comparing it to my own. It still amazes me that he was practicing information architecture in the sixties, seventies and eighties, via process diagrams, flip-charts and punchcards. I guess I went into the family business.
Rest in Peace Pinkie. Know that you are loved always.