Growing up with an “absent” parent, the absence was a given and you learned to cherish the moments you were able to spend with them. As the years passed and Dad’s illnesses progressed, we developed a bond that helped us look beyond the past, focus on the present and not put too much thought into the future. Even as his doctors gave him 6 months, a future without him was unimaginable. He was a true anomaly and only after he’s been gone a year have I come to fully appreciate the lessons he taught us:
1. Live each day to the fullest.
His determination to continue to train horses, grow a berry orchard, create magnificent braided art, and master the art of jelly making was his way of showing appreciation for every day he was given after his heart attack in May of 2000.
2. Don’t complain.
A majority of his last 16 years were spent in pain. He was able to grit his teeth and accomplish many goals.
3. Focus on the positive.
Dad would say “I know I’m sick, I’m not in denial; I’m just not going to spend my time dwelling on what I can’t change”
4. Never stop learning.
He taught us the love of reading and read anything and everything. He would go through books as fast as he would go through a pack of cigarettes. He even wore out a Kindle!
5. Say “I Love You”.
The lasts words I would hear him say were the hardest for him to learn to tell us.
6. Be present.
As this year of mourning comes to an end, a peace seems to have washed over me; his absence has given me a sense of presence.
A sincere thank you to everyone who has held space for me this past year while I’ve learned these lessons and mourned the loss of the “greatest man I never knew”. ❤️
Elroy G. DuBray
“Cowboy Buffalo Man”
5/9/47 – 7/30/16
82nd Airborne, US Army
Brother, Father, Uncle, Friend