My father was constantly in search of a "thin place," the Irish concept of a physical space here on earth where one can feel the closest connection to God. I think it's what drove him in many ways, and I think he found many avenues to explore it.
He found it first in his church, this community that gave him a second family halfway across the country and far from his parents and all five of his brothers and sisters. Catholicism sustained him for many years with the pastoral council, the Knights of Columbus, and most importantly to him, singing in the choir. There were songs he loved, most especially "Go Tell It on the Mountain," that absolutely transported him out of his brilliant, mile-an-hour brain and let him touch the other, the sacred, the mind of God.
In his later years, when his health was robbed from him and his political and social changes shifted, he found incredible peace and serenity in Zen meditation and academic teachings on Buddhist philosophy. It let him see his life differently, focus less on the challenges of running his own medical practice and caring for his two children. He was always on the hunt for how to rise above his own relentless need to fix things, to know things, to learn things. Ironically, those were the traits that fueled this pursuit, and those were the traits we loved him for. We loved him for that restless drive that pushed him into community theater, performing in his band (The Good Ole Boys), playing basketball, backpacking, mountain climbing, photography, gardening, and cooking. There were always new things to find, new ways to think.
Despite his health problems, I like to think that my father found his peace in the moments he didn't have to search out, the places that were just waiting for him. He loved losing to my mother at cards and watching her gloat. He loved sitting on the back porch, watching for morning doves and strumming his guitar. He loved taking his kayak out on a rippleless lake at dawn. And he loved standing on mountain peaks. The air was thinnest up there, I think. It was almost a different world.
I loved my father with everything I had. I followed him up mountains with a twenty-pound pack on my back, I sang duets with him at theater auditions, and I learned to cook at his side. I'm so glad that he has found that thin place at last, has passed through it to a space of true beauty and peace. But he was my thin place, and I'll keep searching for him in the things he loved-in the mountain air, in the smell of basil, in music, music, music.
Download this obituary template — free!
Formatted and ready to use with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or any other word processor that can open the .DOC file format.
Index of obituary templates