Losing a parent is one of life's strangest experiences.
Even though I knew it was coming, no amount of preparation could have braced me to lose my dad. I keep thinking that the phone will ring and he will be on the other end asking, "What are you up to!?"
Somehow, there is a disconnect in my head: I know he is gone. I saw his body. I sat through his funeral and eulogy, and yet, I just can't quite believe it. How was this shell related to the man who spent countless hours at my piano recitals with his video camera recording every single moment for posterity?
My dad's passing has been bitter and sweet. A time to celebrate his life, and a time for sorrow. As my brothers and I have sorted through my dad's personal posessions we've had time to reflect on his life through what he collected.
Collections are funny things. I am a collector of books. I have friends who collect clothes, or coins, or vinyl records. It is amazing to look into someone closet and find out what really lights the path for them.
Before Lady Gaga ever sang about "Paparazzi", Dad was well on his way to being, not the photographer with the greatest pictures, but the photographer with the greatest number of pictures.
As we sorted through stacks of photographs of us as kids, of friends, reunions, cousins, vacations and just about every other moment of life, we decided one thing: Dad didn't collect things, he collected people.
Dad was a fierce and loyal friend. He never met a stranger. He was kind, generous, and had a great sense of humor that would light up a room. He loved people, and his friends were a great joy to him throughout his life. He always said he was "lucky" to have so many wonderful friends, but it wasn't luck; because he was a wonderful friend, he had wonderful friends. He extended his love and acceptance and friendship to all, and in turn, he treasured their love and affection all the days of his life.