My father died suddenly of a heart attack at home in St. Louis last night with my mother and brother present. He had been to see his internist that morning and gotten a clean bill of health. He would have been 82 in a week. He lived a full and independent life to the end: “You can always tell an Irishman, but you can’t tell him much.” I spoke with him almost every week by phone: Sunday night he called full of energy and in good spirits, we talked for perhaps 75 minutes and he had a chance to speak to each of my boys for a while as well.
His best advice to me was that “to not make a decision is to make a decision.”
They say that the words you regret are the ones you never say, and in that regard I am fortunate. He had a stroke in 1994 that he made a full recovery from. But the early diagnosis was so severe that his cardiologist advised me that I needed to fly to St. Louis immediately and “help my family get its affairs in order.” Pop made a complete recovery but the episode reset our relationship and gave us a chance to talk. Still, David Gates’ words in “Everything I Own” are good advice for all of us wrapped up in our startups:
Is there someone you know,
you’re loving them so,
but taking them all for granted.
You may lose them one day,
someone takes them away,
and they don’t hear the words you long to say
I would give anything I own,
Give up me life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again
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