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DADDY | DALI’S PERSISTENCE or HAPPY FATHER’s DAY

This won’t be my last post about all of this. But I’m putting a period on a 4.5 month sentence today. I knew I would. With the way life happened and with all the life that has happened since we got that phone call on that Saturday night and heard the news. That you. You were the news. You leaving was the news. I had this day in my mind almost as soon as I got my mind back. So I’m putting a period on a sentence today.
It’s a hell of a sentence by the way. Faulkner and Joyce turned a sentence into pages; this one’s days, weeks, months. And also lifetimes.
Death sucks. It warps the world. It bends time. It confuses the senses and it makes no damn sense. It’s like a Dali painting in some ways.
BLOG | Persistence of Memory
For you, it sucks because of all the things you didn’t get to do. All the things you didn’t get to resolve. All the things you didn’t get to finish. See. Taste. Address. For most other people death also sucks for all the little things you didn’t get to do: shower, shave, comb your hair, put your shoes away, make sure your wallet was in its place, meticulously organize your entire estate so nobody who followed up on anything had to worry a lick about anything. You know. Big and small things.
Death sucks for me, for mom, for Tita, for all the rest of us, death sucks for all the things we will do without you. Forever. That’s the bottom line. Death sucks if we focus on all the things we will do without you. Crushingly sucks.
But it doesn’t have to. I’m so focused on the fact that it doesn’t have to.

Death sucks when we live in a Janet Jackson world of “what have you done for me lately”. Death sucking is so much of what’s wrong with our world. We forget how we got here. We forget what made us. We forget what we loved. What we enjoyed. What we experienced. For all the recycling bins out there, we still dispose at order of magnitudes more than we reuse. More than we recycle.

More than we relive.

I’m not advocating living in the past. That’s not healthy either. I am advocating appreciating the hell out of it though. Every day has to start with thank you, not a to do list. Only when you start that day off with a thank you, and subtle nod to everything in the past, does death suck less.
I’m 43.
I’ve got an amazing wife.
I’ve got ridiculous kids.
I’ve got Mumma.
I’ve got Tita.
I’ve got in-laws who, well, I’ve got folks. Just more folks.
I’m pursuing (finally) some of the things I love in the hours between those kids, that wife, that life.
I’ve got …
…and that ellipsis can go on for days. I could keep going and not have space, time, need for a period. (Absalom! Absalom!)
I’m not advocating living in the past. I’m advocating that never ever forget that today is the product of an infinite set of moments and yesterdays — and you, Daddy, were essential to all of those.
It starts there. It really, truly, so ridiculously honestly helps, to start there.
It’s also important not to end there. Yes. There are a million things I see every day that make me think of you. Whether it’s how your granddaughter eats cherries. Or how your grandson ensures he has a good time at every party. You’ve got your legacy. And it’s $%&*’ing wonderful.
But sometimes, that’s what makes death suck even more. You’re so visibly here and you’re so clearly not here.
It sucks.
But there’s a moment when it doesn’t, Daddy. There’s this amazing moment when it doesn’t.
It’s when I hop on the elliptical (not enough).
It’s when I make a ridiculous dad joke (too much).
It’s when I make practical sense of emotional nonsense at work (no comment).
It’s when I try and make sure that Priya feels the way that Mom always felt (I failed at that pretty hard a couple of weeks ago, btw, you’d have hated that.)
It’s when I focus less on emulating on, less on recognizing you, and more on honoring you. Honestly.
Just trying to do the things that would have make you smile.
It’s what works for me.
I don’t know what works for anyone else.
But it’s what works for me. I can’t forget this, you. As long as I remember to say thank you every morning, and to honor your spirit every day, you are simply: persistent.

Like time. Time is persistent. Time is stubborn. It doesn’t care what else is happening in the world. It just keeps moving. It can warp. It can bend. It can feel too short and it can feel eternal. But in the end, all time does is keep moving forward.

That’s what made me think of that silly painting that every college student had in their dorm room or at least, on their floor.

The front of that painting is disturbing, warped, bent, liquid, fluid. But meticulously done. Precise. I bet you read about this already, Daddy. But Dali was meticulous and deliberate about every stroke in a manic way. That’s time. That’s today. Warped. Bent. Fluid, Strewn about and exhausted.
But the back of that painting is time too. It’s fixed. It’s beautiful. It’s stunning. It’s Catalonia. It’s Dali’s home. It’s alright.
Happy Father’s Day. For all the warping that’s been in front of us these past 4.5 months, Daddy, I’ll tell you. You’re Catalonia. You’re Catalonia when I look back, and starting today, deliberately, painstakingly, in a way that would make Dali proud, you’re Catalonia when I look forward.
I love you. I’ll do better. You’ll be proud. We’ll move forward. Death sucks. Until it doesn’t. Until we make it not.
We’ll make it not.
Period.
WEDDING | Lets Go
Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.
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DADDY | 4 YEARS AGO or A LIFETIME AGO

4 YEARS AGO or A LIFETIME AGO: “When you live it’s how you are. When you’re gone it’s not how you lived, but how you’re remembered.”

I say, with deep and significant love.

DADDY | April

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | GO BIRDS or HUMBLED BY THOUGHTFUL

Dad was the biggest Eagles fan. When you think of the speed bumps his fandom took on the way to becoming what I consider to be their #1 fan, you’d agree. How far he traveled to get here. How many sports he immersed himself in to get here. How much time he gave up to give himself time to watch. A politician’s son from India, to a Sunday afternoon loyalist of all things Eagles.

But that wasn’t all. My Dad may have been the last known adopter of the DVR. Which means all games were scheduled for and around, and All were consumed (not watched, but voraciously consumer) … live.

He died effectively the day the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. It’s cruel. When you consider the evils inflicted upon him. The mythological travails of an Eagles fan for effectively their whole NFL existence. I mean, Richie Kotite alone. And on the doorstep of greatness he took his last breath.

While you live, it’s how you are. But when you’re gone, it’s not how you lived, it’s how you’re remembered.

Which is what makes this recent gift so incredible.

DAD | Eagles 1

I have no words for it. I bawl as I write this. Just as I did when I received. Just as my sis did when she saw it. Just as my mom did when we placed both in her lap.

“Thank you for being here with us in spirit to guide our Super Bowl victory. We’re grateful for his presence & the joy it brought your family to celebrate with us. He will be missed!!!”

It’s amazing and humbling how many people have kept him and us in their thoughts, prayers, hearts and minds these past few months.

I am humbled beyond belief. I feel like I should walk only with my hands clasped, head down, knees bent, and mouth open…

“Whispering on repeat, thank you thank you thank you.”

Because thank you. To the friend who did this. I won’t tag you here and now because “it’s not about you” (but it is). I won’t tag you here, now, but we are here for you now and forever.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for great friends. We all are.

Go birds. Forever. And thank you, @najee Goode and the Philadelphia Eagles
#GoBirds

and next?

#GoSixers

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | TENDING VS TRENDING TO ENTROPY or HIGH HOPES

Hi Daddy.

Two months. One day. If you forget timezones and just focus on days and dates. It’s been two months and one day since we lost you. Just typing that brings a coating of tears over my eyes and in a second, everything’s blurry — like I’m looking through our windshield while driving through the rinse cycle at a carwash.

You are, forever gone. We’ve covered this.

There is absolutely nothing I can do about any of the fights we had, the times we parted angry, the times I decided to do something else instead of spending time with you, the times I didn’t live up to your expectations and knew I wasn’t. These were just moments in the moment. They come at me quickly, sparked by the smallest thing (I wiped my hands with the wrong hand towel and <<THUD>> like a sledgehammer hitting some part of my body, instantly, my heart, my stomach, my knees, I remember one of those moments in a moment.)

It’s going to happen forever. We’ve covered this.

What is really helping is the chiropractic work you’re performing on my life on a daily basis. And that’s what I want you to know the most. Twice a day I stop, I pause, I breathe, I close my eyes, I think of your (always freshly shaven) face and I reset. You snap me back into place. In-between those moments, life happens. Entropy happens. But all of this has made me more deliberate and more active in not allowing my life to trend to disarray. I’m tending to things more actively and deliberately. I still do, say dumb things. But I’m more aware. It’s not half the battle (Duke, Gung-Ho, Scarlet, and Roadblock lied to us when we were growing up). But it’s a part of the battle.

Life can either trend or tend to entropy. Im tending to it and taking care. We’ve covered this.

Something that’s jumped out at me over the past 2 months and 1 day is that I’ve heard a lot of people say things about life; I’m getting lots of advice. And there’s a lot of it that settles in around statements like “have no expectations” or “expect nothing”.

And I tell you, Daddy. I struggle like hell with that. I don’t think it’s the right way to live. I’m feeling a little push to the opposite.

I’m raising my expectations of people. Of every moment in life. Because as we’ve talked about, people most often rise and fall to the expectations you set for them. When you walk through life expecting nothing of people you actually aren’t making the world a better place. You’re simply making it easier for you to accept whatever comes your way.

DADDY | 4-5

That’s not good enough. Not anymore. We’ve covered this.

I mean it especially of your grandkids. I’m going to keep expecting the most out of them.

The rub? I’m going to applaud their effort, and make sure none of my happiness is tied to the outcome. The result. Anaiya and I talked about it this morning, actually. And things became really clear.

DADDY | 4-5 2

The world will rise and fall to our expectations. You were right to expect more from me; from all of us; from the whole darned world. Your idealism on right and wrong. Your clarity on the fact that absolute right did exist and absolute wrong could and should be called out, is what we need more of.

I’m not stepping back and expecting less, or nothing, of life and the people who fill it. And I’m not going to expect anything but amazing from your grandkids. But I will promise you, hand to heart, head to food, head to toe … i’ll never be disappointed by outcomes again, only by controllable effort and inputs.

Expect the world of the world. Because … people rise and fall to the expectations you set for them.

Me? I’ve got hiiiiiiiiigh hopes. But we’ve covered this.

Love you, Daddy. Talk soon.

PS – Mom would have made you proud at the wedding. Eeshan Kaka andShannon Kaki too. It was beautiful. 🙂

DADDY | 4-5 3

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | SIR, I GAVE MY WORD or WHAT GIVES YOU FAITH IN HUMANITY

What moves you to tears? What reinforces your faith in humanity? What memories and experiences do you hang onto when you want to recount the great potential of people?

Daddy found greatness in the simplest of things. The food he ate. The jokes he told. The way he lived. He was grateful and thankful for every moment he lived. It’s not that the grandiose was lost on him.

DADDY | 3-12

It’s that the grandiose was very simply, not necessary. Daddy found himself moved to tears and inspired to faith by everyday people, enacting everyday gestures, that reflected character, integrity and the very best of what humanity had to offer.

One favorite example takes us back to 1989. Daddy hadn’t been back to visit India in nearly 20 years. Needless to say, he was due. Our parents were greeted by a friend at the airport. Unfortunately, their friend was ill-prepared to accommodate our parent’s travel habits. Think large Samsonite bags bursting at the seams with zippers and locks screaming for mercy.

After seeing the volume of luggage our parents had with them (consisting of whatever Mom had packed for herself and whatever she had packed for Daddy), their friend realized he wouldn’t be able to move our parents and their luggage without some help. He summoned a “Coolie”, or a porter, in Western terms.

When paying cash for any service in India, you find yourself at the mercy of the servicer. And so the haggling began. The Coolie wanted 10 rupees, their friend offered 5. The Coolie worked his way down from 10, to 9, to 8, to 7 rupees, with the longest debate happening at 6. At the bargain basement price of 6 rupees, the Coolie would have been able to afford breakfast, to fill himself with a cup of tea. Daddy’s friend wouldn’t have it. And soon, as market forces determined, a deal was reached: 5 rupees it would be. With the ‘deal signed’, Daddy’s friend went off to find his car into which the luggage would be loaded, but only after telling Daddy in no uncertain terms, not to offer the Coolie any additional money.

A deal is a deal.

As soon as his friend left, Daddy went directly up to this Coolie and offered him the balance of the 10 rupees. Daddy pulled out his best hustle. For 10 minutes he tried everything to give this man some more money. He told the Coolie that he was rich, that he had spare change he wanted to get rid of–he tried everything. But the Coolie would not take the money. When my father asked the Coolie why he refused to accept additional money, the Coolie responded humbly, simply, firmly:

“Sir, I have agreed to 5 rupees, and I have given my word.”

Daddy, was floored. Brought to tears. Even when Daddy made it clear that he would not mention a word of additional rupees paid to his friend, the Coolie wouldn’t accept the offer. Actually, he couldn’t. He had given his word.

You see, for Daddy, Maslow’s hierarchy is inverted. One’s own physiological needs come last; human decency, a rich and undeniable social contract — one’s principles and one’s word are the foundation upon which lives are built and happiness is achieved. In this Coolie and in this story, Daddy found all that was right in this world. No grand scriptures required. No religious experiences necessary. The simple decency of everyday people carried the greatest weight in Daddy’s eyes. Daddy proceeded to retell this story for decades. Decades.

On February 4, 2018, we lost Daddy, the world’s most honest and straightforward man. The kind of man moved to tears of unfathomable joy, pride, and happiness through a passing interaction, with an exceptional example of a human being.

This Coolie carried our parents luggage for a few moments, but he carried Daddy’s spirit and faith for 29 years more.

Thank you, sir.

——————————–

Last week at our memorial for Dad, we handed out copies of this illustration with the below story printed on its back, instead of a traditional printed program. If you’d like a copy of the printout, DM me and I’ll mail you one. Thank you Oliver Bruehl for the illustration conjured from magic, pure magic.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | FOREVER MAN or FOREVER, MAN

With Mothers? It’s nature.
Plus.
Not vs. 
Nurture.
Love. Support. Nourishment.
Unconditional.
Regardless of our condition. (Y’all.)
With Mothers it’s Home.
Mother Earth. Mother India.
And Mother…
(ALL CAPS)
$&@!?er.
Fathers don’t get nature or nurture or home.
Or even great, timeless curse words.
Fathers are Figures.
Go figure.
Fathers. Get time.
Mother Nature. Father Time.
As in
It’s time we talked
It’s time for you to step up
It’s about time you realized
It’s now your time
As in
This time it’s different
This time infinite means finite.
This “time”
My forever man. My forever dad
Who’d be forever there
Forever putting his forever hand
Forever guiding my forever path
However rough and however gruff
Forever forward.
Is forever gone. Gone. Forever.
Father. Time.
Father it is Time.
To understand the difference.
Between time well spent.
And time.
Spent.
With Mothers it’s nature.
With Fathers it’s time.
Goodbye, This Time.
Forever, man.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

 

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DADDY | MEMORIAL SERVICE DETAILS or KISHORE KUMAR SAID IT BEST

“Zindagi ek safar hai suhana
Yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana”

Family, friends, incredibly supportive community members, we invite you to join us in celebrating the life of Kiran Chandrakant Bhatt.

>> Day & Time: Sunday, March 4th from 3-5:30/6
>> Location: The Indian Cultural Center in Marlton, NJ

His physical presence left us on February 4th, but only after he laughed heartily at videos of Anaiya and Jaan, his grandkids, after he told Anita, his daughter, how much he loved her, after he indulged in two (not one) ras gulas, after he took his typically brisk morning walk around his favorite place in the world, Ahmedabad, and after he returned home to be next to the eternal, undeniable, incredible love of his life, Renu.

He left us at the pinnacle of happiness. For all he has done for us, we are blessed. For how quickly and how painlessly he found peace, we are comforted.

We invite you to join us for a few bhajans, a few stories, and the opportunity to participate in saying not farewell, but thank you, for all the joy he brought us.

Love,
The Bhatt Family

“Arey o leiyo leiyo, oleiyo leiyo
Oleiyo leiyo, oleiyo leiyo
Oleiyo leiyo, oleiyo leiyo”

PS – Skip the sorrow, tears and flowers. If compelled, send smiles and support our way, and any financial contributions to The American Heart Association: https://donatenow.heart.org/

PPS – The song referenced in quotes above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wZDU-DDTOU

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | AMI CHHATNA or AUSPICIOUS RAIN

My arms are sore. We lifted my Daddy up 10 times yesterday. Some were small transfers. Some were lengthier. Including down seven flights of stairs. As we carried Daddy out the front door of his dream house in Ahmedabad, I heard a rustling. Breeze? Leaves?

A light rain. A light sprinkle. Extremely odd. Because it never rains in Southern California, or in Ahmedabad in February.

As we descended the stairs the sprinkles, the “chhatna” as we call it, stayed light and steady. At each flight’s midpoint, the stairs turn at a landing, with a waist high level wall and an open window to the courtyard. At each turn you’d be able to peek out the open window and see the pavement and roadway slowly getting clean. Raindrop pointillism. Like how light rain freshens up the driest concrete, the dustiest sidewalks, and makes all grass look fresh and new. No puddles. No accumulation. Just a light sprinkle to freshen up the ground.

Then we got downstairs.

We had to carry Daddy outside briefly to get him into the garage where the ceremony would begin. During that quick turn the rain…stopped. Not a drop of exaggeration.

It sprinkled just enough to freshen up the ground and clean up the world for my Daddy. Who did that for everything he owned and interacted with. Clean. Precise. Fresh. Presentable. Mother Nature did that for him when he couldn’t do it for himself.

I found the timing beautiful. I’m not religious and barely spiritual, though there’s something hopeful about believing in the magical as possible, just not relying on it.

But as I spoke to my Daddy’s eldest cousin, who I sat with for 90 minutes to hear stories going back to toddlerhood, he mentioned this idea of the “Ami chhatna”. An auspicious sprinkle, that happens just as did for my Daddy, for the loftiest of souls. As his rises to universality (and to become a star) it has been beautiful to watch the outpouring of support for our family and in memory of how he loved and in recognition of how he will continue to influence them in the future.

But I know my Daddy. And I know how loved he is. So I expected all of that outpouring.

I was humbled though when the skies, literally opened up, with their own outpouring. Perfectly delivered. Freshening his path to the crematorium. And clearing his path to whatever is next for him.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the support and symbolism. He never let anyone make a big deal about him while he was here. Happy he gave the human, material and spiritual world a reprieve as he leaves us. Love you, Daddy. You’ve earned all of this and More.

Also, does this dude look 77? The pic was taken just a few months ago just after that birthday.

DADDY | 2-14 1

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY | A STAR

Yesterday, our Dad became a star. There’s still a lifetime of things to say, but here is step 1…

Today I fly to India to join the strongest person I know, my mom, and a community of friends and family, to help the world say goodbye to his body. His light. His love. His spirit. His crappy jokes. His absolute moral perfection and purity. Those will live on forever. Envelop us from moment-to-moment. Protect us. Remind us. Break us but only momentarily. Because his strength and resilience are also with us forever.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful to have called you Daddy for 42 years, and now, to close my eyes, or to look at the sky, or to look at your grandkids, and be reminded and fully inspired to do the same. Forever. I will see your body soon. I will do my best to live in a way that makes you proud and is worthy of your legacy. See you soon, Daddy. You’d be proud and brought to tears if you heard Anaiya explain her love for you, and, how she knows you’ll always be with us. I’ll whisper it in your ear when I see you. 

Also, go Eagles. You earned this Super Bowl run with a near lifetime of dedicated fandom. 🙂

Thank you all for your love and support. It’s a testament to the person he will always be and the person my mom is. Send love. Send strength. Shed no tears. Channel that emotion deeply and powerfully toward the people you love.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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