Anniversary – Dad

ImageYesterday was the one month anniversary of my Dad’s passing away.

I felt off most of the day, but didn’t realize why until later.   That’s the way it seems to be going for me, I’m fine and then something out of the blue reminds me of him.  There are times that I catch myself wondering when he is coming to visit again, or think of a golf course that we need to play…  Of course, those are the times that hit the hardest.

Dad was a big man physically and he had a big heart.  In fact, he lead with his heart most of the time.

He lived passionately and was the biggest optimist I will ever meet.  People have told me that I do a good job of looking on the bright side of things.  I used to say “you should meet my Dad.” Now I’ll have to remember to say “you should have met my Dad.”

We had Dad’s service here in Portland the Saturday before Easter, a stunningly sunny, warm spring day.  I had committed to say a few things there, hoping I could keep it all together and form intelligent sentences.  I knew what I wanted to say, but didn’t really put fingers to keyboard until the night before.  Once I started writing, the words just flowed out.

I have put the text of what I said below, not to show off any oratory skill I do not possess, but to remind myself of the topics I covered.

  • Life is short, enjoy the time we have.
  • Don’t live in the past, or in the future; focus on today.
  • Love your family and close friends and make time for them.
  • Love, live, forgive, forget, move on.

Here is what I said that day:

Today is a day to celebrate a life, to remember the good times we had with Walt, and mourn his not being here with us.  It’s a selfish day really, designed to help us – to help us all start to heal the hole in our hearts left by his passing.

One Day at a Time –

We heard that phrase a lot during the last month or so of Dads life.  It seemed to be a favorite of the hospital staff whenever we asked for more information; when we asked about an outcome;  when we asked about expectations….  which really wasn’t very helpful at all.  Being in that situation and hearing that phrase so often really got me thinking about it really means.

One Day at a Time

And this is what I have come up with – One Day at a Time means to live life like there is no tomorrow – To live like yesterday’s woes never happened, to work your butt off to make TODAY the best day of your life – and if you get a tomorrow, then use that tomorrow to top what you did today.

Today is a day to tell stories, to cry, to hug, and to heal – One Day at a time.

I learned a lot from my Dad, I was fortunate to have worked with him in two different companies.  He had an ability to listen to what a customer was saying they wanted – and then ignore what they said and instead, give them what they really needed – which often was a completely different thing …

Listening – really listening – One day at a time.

Another lesson was that passion in pursuit of a dream can be a powerful, driving force.  And forgiveness is even more important.

I remember a time where we were in a argument about some detail of the business, something he was passionate about having his way and he was getting really angry with how the argument was going and he stormed out of the office – taking both hands and shoving a four foot high pile of magazine’s off the table and all over the floor on his way out.

I was left alone in the office, scared for my life for when he came back!

Instead of being angry when he got back, he gave me one of his huge, “Uncle Walt” hugs and we were all good again…

Forgiving and forgetting – One day at a time.

Another thing I learned from Dad, and many of you in this room learned too, was that he always looked on the bright side – to say the least – he was an optimist.  – he assumed the best possible outcome in every situation, no matter what.   Sometimes his optimism didn’t quite workout the way he assumed it would – and sometimes, that was to the detriment of us on the other side of his optimism !!

Reminds me of the lyrics by John Lennon =

“you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…”

Dreaming and Believing – Ond Day at a Time…

As we continue to work through our healing in the weeks and months to come, we need to remember the feeling of connection and togetherness that we are creating here in our mourning – our depending on each other, our sharing (keep the stories flowing!) and our increased closeness.

the next part of the lyrics penned by John Lennon are:

“I hope some day you’ll join us – And the world will be as one”

Because it strikes me that this togetherness, this closeness, this enjoying the time that we have and the good memories we make are what really matter.

Making the most of the time we have – One Day at a Time.

I think that sums it all up for me – what I’ve learned from my Dad, what I chose to remember  – all of the best of him, and how I want to live the rest of my life moving forward.

One Day at a Time, focus on the important things in life.

Dad sent this to several of us in email a couple of years back – I think it’s a great way to be reminded that there is ALWAYS time for the truly important things in life, if we make them the priority:


When things in your life seem, almost too much to handle, When 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy classand had some items in front of him.  When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students, if the jar was full.   They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar..   He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided,  ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. 

The golf balls are the important things – family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions.  Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else –The small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’  He continued, ‘there is no room for  the pebbles or the golf balls.    The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, You will never have room for the things that are important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

  • Play with your children.
  • Take time to get medical checkups..
  • Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time for the “sand” in life, take care of the golf balls first —  The things that really matter.  Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.  ‘I’m glad you asked’.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.’

Walt Gorski: My Dad passed away at 66 years of age.  I will miss him for rest of my life, but he continues to live on in my heart and the lessons he leaves behind.

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