My dad loved Dr. Seuss, and few things gave him the same joy he experienced reading Dr. Seuss to his children and grandchildren. When I pursued my graduate degree in literature, he credited himself and Yertle the Turtle for my passion for literature. When my dad's battle with cancer ended three years ago, my siblings and I found it only fitting that it was on Dr. Seuss's birthday.
For me, losing my dad was a lot like getting divorced. It was devastating and I knew life would never quite be the same. As time passed, though, life without my dad (just like life without my spouse) became my new existence, and the inevitable pain that accompanies loss eased with each passing day. Memories faded. There are still times when I reach for the phone to call my dad to share an accomplishment or seek his advice only to realize that it's not possible, but, for the most part, I've grown accustomed to this new life.
As a child of the Depression, my dad never had much, but, as far back as I can remember, he always had a profound appreciation for the simplest things in life, even once his quality of life diminished. During his last few years, his greatest joy came from lying outside in the sun, listening to the creek that ran through the backyard at my childhood home in Montana. To him, nothing was better than being outdoors, and the mountains made him feel more alive.
I have 9 siblings and we all had a different relationship with my dad. Likewise, we all took something different away from our loss. After watching my dad's quality of life fade, I have tried to be thankful for every moment of every day -- for the time I'm able to spend in the mountains and for the monotony of sitting in my office -- and to remind myself that every moment of my existence (mundane, painful, exciting, and happy) is a privilege. So, today, on Dr. Seuss's birthday, I just want to take a moment to be thankful for the slow steps in recovery from injury that I am taking, for the beautiful spring day, and for having had the opportunity to know someone who so profoundly impacted my outlook on life. And for my appreciation of Dr. Seuss.