Thursday, March 01, 2018

Today would have been my dad's seventieth birthday.  He was born March 1, 1948, and missed being a February 29th leap year baby by one day.  He always wanted to make things better for people who didn't have much.  He gave his heart and his effort and his time.

If you've got a glass with you, even if you didn't know my dad, consider raising it if you'd like to appreciate someone wise, strong, and goofy; someone who didn't have the answers but still tried as hard as he could; someone whose primary way of interacting with the world was love.

If you'd raise your glass, he'd be embarrassed at your attentions, and that'd be great.

Happy 70th, Dad.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Grief Post - One Year

Today it's been a year since my dad died.  I've been trying to be wise and learn lessons from this and put good things out in the world to make some sort of sense of it, but this day I don't feel like I can do that.  All I have room for is the deep wound and the heavy weight of his loss.  If you knew him, you know he was a good man.  My parent, my friend, gone before his time, and I lost such a wealth of goodness and love all of a sudden on one terrible day.  I miss him terribly.

Here he is with his dad, in a quiet moment, and being delighted at Christmas.

John Leo, Richard Edward

at his parents' home in Manitowoc

Can't fake delight.

May his kind smile and good face do something for you today the way it has for me.

Thanks to Mark for the photos

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Grief Post - My Father's Birthday

Today, March 1, 2017, is the day my father would have turned sixty-nine years old.  Instead, he's frozen at sixty-eight and a quarter because his poor heart gave out in the middle of the night last June.

I couldn't sleep last night.  It's easier to ignore Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and Day because they are not days where I celebrated my father specifically.  Today I am both at work like normal and re-feeling some of the feelings of that horrifying day I found out I wouldn't see him again.

But here's some hope, or at least a coincidence I can read into whatever I want.

June 7th of last year, just after he died, I took a walk around the athletic fields at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Wauwatosa.  It was a beautiful day with a gentle sunset and everything was perfect except my world was torn apart.  It had been good to escape the squared-off corners and lobby music of the hotel where my family had gathered, and the quiet day at the athletic fields had a meditative, big-sky quality.  Rounding the soccer field and heading back to the hotel, I saw a deer at the edge of a small patch of woods.  She looked at me, and I looked at her, and then she headed back to the trees.  How unexpected.  I had crossed a four-lane highway to get from the hotel to the field, and the area was defined by manicured lawns and midrise office park towers.  But there was a deer, eating grass, doing deer stuff.  I wanted to take it as a sign.

This past Sunday, February 26th, I visited Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, where my father's body is interred.  It was unseasonably warm and I rode my bike to and through the gigantic cemetery grounds to the mausoleum.  Rosehill occupies almost a square mile and is situated on the corner of two busy Chicago thoroughfares but the city noise drops away as you move toward the interior.  It was quiet and peaceful as I biked through.  I stopped in a hurry, though, because there in the middle of the cemetery, munching on grass, was another deer, deep in the city, far from where I'd expect to see such a creature.  He looked up at the sound of my brakes, gave me an oh-I-guess-you're-here look, and went back to his meal.  I just watched for a few minutes.  Eventually he moved on his way and I continued to the mausoleum, where I had my first experience of taping a birthday card to a grave.

In such hard days, when I've been overwhelmed with the significance of his life and his death, I had calm visitors.  The coincidence of timing is striking.  In this time of canyon-deep pain and trackless confusion, if I'm going to gingerly place my faith in anything, I want it to be that somehow, somewhere, my wonderful dad is free from his back-bending burden and is sending me deer to say hi.

My uncle recently said something that reminded me of Martin Luther King's observation that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."  These days in America, I think we're seeing that the arc is indeed really long, and we have such a long way to go, but it is so important to me that it bends the right way, toward justice.  If so, I feel like I can count on my dad being somehow okay.

Happy birthday, Dad.  Thanks for the deer.  I love you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Grief Post - Six Months

Today I mark six months since my father died.  That summer day changed my life, and I've been dreading the winter and its cold bleak depression.

I'm bitter that the leaves of my father's last spring will soon be desiccated litter.  Dad loved the spring.  He taught me to watch for the burst of new shoots with that audacious new green.  I want the desperate optimistic energy that powers that new life to stay with me.

I'm grateful that some of the trees in my neighborhood are holding their leaves this year, even past the first snow.  It feels like a gift to me.  They're hanging on, and, for now, so am I.  When they finally fall I will mourn the passage of time and my one and only dad.  I will also be glad that those leaves hung on as long as they did.

I miss you, Dad.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Grief Post

Dear Dad,

Today is one month since your last day alive. How I hate this ever-increasing length. It's a hateful ribbon trailing out behind me, connecting me to fuller days behind and reminding me of the difference between those days and these. The difference, the margin, the subtraction, the lessening. I didn't know how rich I was then.

Today I remember your weary voice asking me for help with your broken cell phone. Today I remember you, harried and wounded by the goddamn C. Diff, telling me how you wanted your life to be better in the future. Today I remember the recliner that held you as you died, and how light it was as I rocked it back and forth as a mean substitute for giving you a long hard hug. I love you, Dad, and I miss you. I hope I see you again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Richard Edward Porubcansky

Oh, people, it hurts like hell to say this.

My father, Richard Edward Porubcansky, died peacefully and unexpectedly overnight between June 5 and 6, 2016.

If you didn't know him, then look at me. I am every inch my father's son, and I am so proud and heartbroken. If you did know him, then please mourn with me.

Dad taught me so much: how to be a citizen and caretaker, how to listen to my own voice and learn to be myself, how to be goofy, how to throw things. How to shave, how to tie a tie, how to make sure your friends and family are going to be okay.

He also taught me the cost of living for duty. Friends, don't do this. Remember that every person is a human, not a superman or superwoman, yourself included. Remember that you'll need help in life, and especially if you are inclined to go it alone, heed my words right now: ask for help, then accept that help. Dad didn't do enough of that in his quest to shield other people from trouble and pain. He was noble, but he took on too much and it weighed on him terribly.

Despite the weight he chose to carry, my dad has been a surpassing father, a caring friend, and so much fun. The word that people have been saying to me is "hero" and while I know that word is for people who fly around doing impossible things, damn if hearing them say that doesn't make my heart ache with pride and loss.

Please share stories of my dad in the comments, if you have them.

Rest, Dad. You're supported by the love of so many people, and I'm proud to be one of them. I love you, always.

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminder
Of every glove that laid him out
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame:
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains.

- "The Boxer"
written by Paul Simon

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy

I'm so sad today to hear of Leonard Nimoy's death. His portrayal of Spock gave me a touchstone as an awkward smart kid. He showed me an image of an intelligent, respected adult who was different yet accepted without question. Maybe that could be my future instead of feeling like I couldn't fit in.

For the hope he gave me, I adopted him as mine, and now I feel both loss and gratitude.

Thank you, Leonard! Rest in peace.