My father, Ed Lowenstein, turns 77 years old today.
I wrote about Dad’s birthday two years ago, when he reached three-quarters of a century.
A lot has happened since then, with the biggest change being the death of his beloved wife, Diane, last July.
This was a major blow.
Dad and Diane spent close to a quarter century together. During that time, he not only experienced joy he had previously thought inconceivable, he became a better husband, father and man.
In the 11 months since then, Dad has begun a new phase of his life, one in which he has had to confront one of life’s most basic questions: what do I want to do with the time I have on the planet?
Although fundamental, this is not an easy question to answer. In Dad’s case, forging a working understanding has been complicated by the reality that he had, for more than six decades, had precise goals and objectives he had identified. In addition to dealing with the loss of his soul mate, he found himself in the decidedly uncertain position of being what, if anything, he wants to do.
Nevertheless, he has carried on with dignity, strength and grace.
Dad grieved openly in the first weeks and months after Diane’s death, and, while that pain has certainly not disappeared, he has gradually seemed to achieve a greater degree of equilibrium. He has traveled widely, spending time with each of the three of us, Dunreith, Aidan and Annie, Mike’s fiance, and a wide range of friends in locations from Massachusetts to Hawaii.
He has continued to participate in the groups to which he belongs, attended concerts, eaten at restaurants and exercised to the degree his ailing back has permitted him.
He’s also worked to define a new sense of purpose.
I don’t know if he’s arrived there yet, but I do know that I respect and admire how Dad has taken what he learned from Diane about relationships, about emotional connection and about generosity and continued to live from that place. He has been open about his pain and his struggle, all the while moving forward and facing his days with openness and strength.
In short, he’s lived this latest year, perhaps one of the most difficult of his life, with heart and with the fullness of what life offers and takes.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope this next year brings the continued easing of your pain and the joy you so richly deserve.