My Father’s Conscious Living

As Father’s Day approaches, memories bubble up of my beloved dad. I grew up feeling valued by him, and as a kid, I was always willing to do my part. I learned that when everyone pitches in a reasonable portion of the work around the home, it makes the chores go smoothly. When shared with others, work can be a fun enterprise.

Daddy always asked me to be his helper as he worked at various chores around our home. One of my favorite jobs was washing the car with him. He made it fun to lather and rinse our car and goof off some in the process. I also helped him with some carpentry tasks. He and I built some small shelves, and he let me apply the varnish. What fun!

I was only seven years old when I learned how to cut the grass on our lawn. That job was accomplished with a push mower, for my safety, and I had only my part of the yard to cut. It was a hard chore for me, requiring strength and persistence. My brother was old enough to use a motorized mower, and he cut the remainder of the lawn. After I reached the age of ten, I too learned how to use the motorized lawn mower. The job sure went more quickly with the motor.

Father’s Conscious Dying

Daddy and I were very close throughout my youth and adulthood. It came as such sad news when we learned he had an incurable cancer of the bowel.

Though many years have now passed, I vividly remember the way my dad anticipated his death and consciously helped his loved ones prepare. He invited each of his children and stepchildren to visit with him privately and ask or tell him anything we might have on our minds or our hearts.

Then he told each one how very special we were to him and thanked us for being such loving children. He assured us that his love for us was eternal, that love never dies. Anytime we want to feel his love, all we had to do is think of him.

I believed him then and that closeness still holds true. I feel his loving presence every day. What a gift he gave us! I hope to have those same conscious intentions when I approach my own end of life. I feel blessed to have had such a great dad. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

Learn more about Journey’s End: Death, Dying, and the End of Life (2017) by Julie Saeger Nierenberg, MAEd, and Victoria Brewster, MSW

Julie Nierenberg

A writer, editor and author coach, I am inspired by the journey of love and release through my father’s end of life. In 2013 I published a book about our experience. Guided by my father's living example as an author and activist, I write to contribute to how we prepare, individually and collectively, to live and support the final chapter of life. I write to immerse in the moment and to experience the satisfaction that writing can bring. Oklahoma is the home of my roots. I lived in McCloud, Tahlequah, Oklahoma City and Tulsa for many years before a recent move to Toronto, Ontario. As a young adult, I meandered through a variety of career emphases in environmental and biomedical sciences before realizing I was called to be an educator. Following my heart into education of gifted children, I enjoyed nearly twenty years, first as a Whole Language, Spanish and art teacher and then as an administrator. With a growing love of children, I courageously became a parent, twice! The joy and purpose I feel in that role is a guiding light in my daily life. Now my two daughters are firmly on the paths of their own journeys through life; I thrill to watch them as they navigate their chosen courses. In 2006, I grew wings that took me all the way to Toronto, where I joined my life partner and soul mate. There, I reinvented my career to flexibly accommodate travel between the home of my family of origin in Oklahoma and my new home in Canada. I established my own business as a writer, editor, author coach and self-publisher. It has been my great pleasure to work with other writers as a partner in authorship, or as editor and coach, and I look forward to many more such affiliations. With each passing day, more topics and opportunities present themselves and I embrace them with gratitude. During the months, weeks and days leading up to my father's death, I was present as much as possible. I was with him when he transitioned from this earthly life in April of 2012, so very privileged to be at his side. Later, as my sorrow washed over me in waves, I began to write our very personal story, and I connected with his memory, integrating my grief, through that effort. In 2013, I published the story as a short book and included resources to support others facing end-of-life issues. Since the book's publication as "Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad," I have reached out to many grief and bereavement support workers, hospice and palliative care chaplains and end-of-life advocates with an introduction to my book. I make many valued connections as I reach out with this purpose. With one such connection, Victoria Brewster, MSW, I am now co-writing another book on Death, Dying and the End of Life. We hope this book will offer a unique and comprehensive perspective, with multiple contributors sharing their end-of-life experiences.

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