This is likely not the headline you may have been anticipating for the birthday post but the general concept has been floating around in my head for over a week and thinking about my birthday provided the final link.
The headline refers to the death of Davy Jones. When I was 6, I had a Monkees lunch kit and would argue they were better than the Beatles (I know… I know… but I was 6 and they had a TV show – and we had a colour TV!) I heard Brian Williams say these words as I was passing the TV that night and it caught my attention – because my dad had died at 66. It is definitely very young in the developed world and it’s an age that catches people’s attention.
Of course my father’s death didn’t make the national news. He lived in a small prairie town. But in that locale he was as famous as Davy Jones and his funeral was huge. There was almost an overflow crowd outside the town hall. It really showed me how we can all be celebrities within our own social groups.
Certainly more people know who Davy Jones is. But, was he genuinely loved by more people than my dad? Did he have a more fulfilling life? My guess would be that the answer is no. It discourages me how crazy the cult of “celebrity” has become – and what pathetic role models so many of these so-called “celebrities” are. It’s a crazy world, people 🙂
But anyone can choose their values and their path and decide what their impact and legacy will be on the greater world. I definitely learned a few things from my father – and saw the impact he had on other people and the legacy that he left in the world.
Today’s date was the last time I talked to him four years ago. It was my birthday but I was in a board meeting. When I got out, I checked my phone and my parents had both sung “happy birthday”. Especially since my dad couldn’t really sing, it was a huge treat after having to work so hard on my birthday. So I called them back to thank them. My mom was off at one of her many extracurricular activities so my dad and I chatted for over an hour. Normally he would just hand the phone to my mom. We have had an incredible, extremely complex relationship that involved some significant conflict so it was really cool to have that call where our wonderful old relationship seemed to have been restored. Nine days later he was dead of an unexpected heart attack that shocked everyone.
Two of the friends I invited to my birthday party recently lost parents. We are all at the age where it is inevitable. There is no right way to cope. I gave my dad a theme song (“My Way”), have little conversations with him on significant dates and pass on his wisdom and his values to others as a way of maintaining his legacy. Talking about him keeps him alive for me. So, a toast to my dad on my birthday 🙂