One considers one’s life when a close loved one passes. It is this that I write about now. My father recently passed away, and I am reflecting on his life and comparing it to mine. I realize that the simple Dash represents so much between the birth and death years. It is only a character but represents the whole life of a person. The Dash is the essence of who, what, where, and when a person exists. The Dash is whom they affected. The Dash is how much good was given to others. 

The Dash should be bigger than the whole gravestone. It was more significant than the entire event. So, when looking at and comparing one’s life to another, do it from the perspective of what you want to get out of life. Do not try to measure up to another person. It is OK to take examples of that person’s life. That is learning wisdom. A person can look at that person’s faults, accomplishments, and experiences that could allow her to learn from their mistakes and wins. But one should not try and replicate that person’s life. It is futile. Be who you are, and use that learned wisdom to be better or different. A life lived is a life worth understanding, but it is not your life. It is not your experience. It is not your accomplishments.  

My father was a great man, dad, and friend. He loved my mother, my sister, and me. He adored my wife and his grandchildren. His great love for friends and family was evident. He loved interacting with his children and grandchildren. He had an open heart. He allowed people to share their stories, opinions, and advice. He also liked to speak his views. He never missed our sporting events. I once told him, “Dad, it is great that you attend every sporting event, but you don’t need to attend every practice!”   

In my reflection, I hope to mirror some of these attributes. I shall cherish my father for his good. I will learn from his accomplishments and faults. I will treasure our shared experiences and those crazy stories. I hope to be that open person who enjoys hearing another opinion fully before sharing mine. I hope to be sought for advice. I hope I learned some wisdom that I could apply to my life. Additionally, I hope to impart some of these characteristics to my children.  

In the end, that Dash, I will remember him as Dad—a title earned, not given.