|By Bradley Koltz|
Often we write about important people in our lives after they have left us. We do it afterward because it can be embarrassing and awkward, because we don't want to think about it or because we have no notice and then they're gone.
My father is dying. He's been fighting cancer for a while now and it looks like the fight is just about over. That's incredibly hard to write, but it is true just the same.
I hope youíll indulge me in a brief tribute to my Dad while he's still with us, and I hope Dad will forgive the breaking of convention while I tell him and you how much he means to me.
Dad has always been a bigger than life character, doing incredible things that seem like they're from a bygone era, when adventurers and explorers opened new places or sought new opportunities.
Dad survived any number of things that would have bested much better men than me. Hurricanes at sea, ferocious ice storms, mutinous crews, armed thugs, dishonest business associates and crooked politicians to name but a few.
As Iíve gotten older, Iíve come to realize that many of the things he taught me were also the things that got him through those challenges.
Dad taught me that you always stop on a dark road and offer help when someone is stranded. Always. You always face up to your fears and face down bullies. Always. Keep your head clear and your focus on the end goal. Always. And you must always follow your dreams and your calling, wherever it leads. Always.
It was often tough being the son of such an accomplished innovator, and such a magician, constantly awestruck as he conjured up success from certain failure time and time again. Sons tend to measure themselves against fathers, the good and the not so good that is in all of us. And when fathers are larger than life that can be a somewhat daunting challenge.
My father confided recently that he feels he has lived his life to the fullest that he could, and I believe him when he says he has no regrets. Not because I don't think there are things he wishes he could have done, or wouldn't have done, or done better or done differently, but because he knows that he has always done his level best. Always. And that is all any of us really ever can do.
I like to think that some of his strength, and intellect, and humor, and resolve, and kindness and wisdom have found their way to me, and I know I will need all of that and more when he does go because I will miss him very, very much. Far more in fact than I'm sure I have any idea.
But I also know that he is very much a part of who I am, and so I will always have him near. We'll see just how much of a comfort that really is soon enough.
But for now, I just wanted to tell Dad, and I guess everyone else, how much I love him, how proud and lucky I am to be his son, and how grateful I am for all the parts of him that he has shared.
Bradley Koltz is the son of Kevin Koltz, and also the publisher of The Community Gazette.