49 years and 13 weeks...that's how long my father lived. "How old was your dad when he died?" people would ask me when they found out he passed away when I was young. I remember thinking he was 50 because he was born in 1924 and died in 1974. Even with my limited math skills, I knew that totaled 50 years.
But, like me, my father was born in the month of November and he passed away in February so he was in his 50th year, but he was only 49 years old.
49 years and 13 weeks.
I don't know if it's like this for everyone who's father passes away when they're young, but I alway wondered if I would live as long as my father, because when you grow up without a parent because they died, a fairytale existence where everything works out isn't guaranteed. Bad things can happen and people can die young.
Of course, at the time he passed away (I was eight...) I thought 49 year old was OLD! I mean, he was so much older than my friend's dads. They were all in their 30s. My father was older when he got married. Well, older for Mormon culture. Then he and my mom tried for years to have kids of their own without success so by the time they ended up adopting three kids, my father was into his 40s. Now, when I think of people in their 40s, they're no longer old. In fact, they're pretty darn young.
As I grew and got older, I often wondered if I would live as long as my dad. Again, because I know it happens, I wondered if it would happen to me. Would I reach 49? I knew that if I were to pass away in my late 40s my kids would be older than his kids were, even though I got married a little older than some.
The reason I'm thinking about this, and more specifically, writing about this is because as of today, February 26, 2015, I have lived exactly 49 years and 13 weeks. Which means, as of tomorrow, my time on this planet will have eclipsed that of my dad.
Because we're human, we compare. We compare salaries, home sizes, car models, even talent levels. I've sometimes thought of all my father accomplished in his life and it's staggering. The man helped raise his younger siblings during the depression. He enlisted in WWII and was stuck in the back of a B-17 as a tailgunner--arguably the most dangerous place to be on a plane that had a greater chance of being shot down than finishing the war unscathed. He was a deputy sheriff, an expert marksman and a justice-of-the-piece. He completed his undergraduate degree in three years. He built a radio, a television and even the house where I grew up. He also married a wonderful woman and adopted three pretty cool kids. I can't think of a better example of a man to emulate.
Tomorrow I'll wake to a new day, one day more than my father had--49 years, 13 weeks and one day. And because of who he was and what he did for me, I can only hope to honor him by being the best man possible. Thanks dad...for everything!