Life is full of things we have to do and things we don’t look forward to doing. Often, they’re the same thing. That’s what’s happening to me on Sunday. I have to pay my respects to my Godfather’s family. I have to be there for me, not them. I’m not looking forward to it because it’s hard to control the emotions and focus them in the right direction. There will be tears. There will be sadness. Parker would not be happy about that. I try to imagine what Parker would say if he could talk to us. “For God sake’s people, stop with the tears. I lived a life that most only dream of, left a legacy and have changed my address so I can say hello to Rene. Why are you all so sad?”
Parker touched a lot of lives and one of those was mine. As long ago as it was, I remember how special it was to everyone that Parker would be my Godfather. I didn’t understand the significance at the time, but I knew it was special to everyone. Growing up I acquired the “Billy” nickname and hated it. Parker always called me Billy and I never minded. When I visited him in the hospital he introduced me to other visitors as Billy and it made me smile. Looking back, it seems that Parker was an ideal choice for a Godfather. He set a great example (a fun example) and he kept an eye on me. While we met infrequently over the years, he always knew what I had been up to. I knew Parker was watching.
When the Zumwalt was christened and I could invite a few guests, I thought of Parker. He seemed to really enjoy the reception with the crew and the christening ceremony. That was the first time that I realized the physical struggle it was for him to attend something like that. Parker was always the one still going after others had long given up at every event.
While conversation was upbeat in the hospital, I got a strong sense that Parker had made a decision. He outlined the upcoming treatment with little enthusiasm; the only bright point for him was going home. Parker did everything on his terms, and that’s not a bad thing.
There are basically two kinds of people in our lives, takers and givers. Parker was a giver in so many ways. Family, friends, community, church. The list is endless. And Parker never asked for or expected anything in return. I know Parker enjoyed the attention as Grand Marshal of the Memorial Day Parade, not because it was directed at him, but rather because so many people were having such a good time. Parker loved a good time. So, I’m going to take the next few days to try to get my head straight, work through what I have to work through and be prepared to have a good time on Sunday. I’ll see his family who I care deeply for, and I’ll see a lot of “old” Camden folks that I love reminiscing with. We’ll have fun. It will be a party that would make Parker proud.
It will still be tough.
Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com. He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant.
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