Sunday, June 15, 2008
Fritz Roode - 1930-2008
when I heard about your sudden death thousands of miles away, I knew immediately I had to pay you the respect you deserve by being part of your final journey. Yes, we haven't seen each other for more than a decade but deep down inside I knew I had to be there for you for the last time, together with your family and friends.
Maybe it's because you were there when I entered this world, held me, took care of me, were the best father you can be. Or maybe it's because I just felt both of us needed some kind of closure to move on to wherever destination we're going from here.
That we didn't speak for so long is nobody's fault. We both did our best. Your job as a father and my job as a son was to develop this little bundle of joy you held on his first day into a responsible, loving adult. This can be done in numerous ways. Unfortunately, I had to do it on my own, had to move away and take care of things without anybody's help. I know I hurt your feelings by doing it this way but, frankly, I had no choice. The challenges that our family had to face when I grew up were so serious that I had to take charge of my own life and make sure to become the best I can be.
This doesn't diminish anything you accomplished as a proud father: You instilled in me a strong work ethic, took Monday afternoons off to teach me swimming (just to make up the work hours at night), you were there at all my soccer games, always cheering me on. And, most importantly, you always answered the call: starting a family with nothing, getting an education after 12-hour days at the factory and you were always cracking a joke in the worst circumstances. Trying to make the best out of bad situations.
Vati, I hope you understand that I always respected you and were proud of your achievements. In your professional and personal life. And you should be proud that you helped myself becoming a happy person with a fulfilling work life, a happy marriage and an amazing kid. I regret that you never met these two most important people in my life. You would have loved both of them with all your heart and it would have been such a joy for you to play with Astrid and trick her, just like you tricked and amused me when I was a kid.
My heart was aching when I followed the coffin with all your family and friends to the last resting point. You deserved an easier life, a life filled with contentment. And I wish I could have done anything to make it easier for you. But fighting was always your strongest principle and you might not have wanted anything else than a fighters life. Walking with you on your last journey, I stopped wishing for a better life and started appreciating the life you had. And the joy you spread to others.
And when the funeral was over and everybody headed to the restaurant, I snuck out and bought two coffees at Tchibo, one of your favorite places in the world, and returned to your graveside to have a last coffee and chat together.
And while we were having a coffee, I finally could forgive you. More than that, I understood where you were coming from and just felt love for you. I felt our souls connected for the first time in a long time and I hope this gave your soul more peace and helped you with your final send-off.
Vati, you might not know it, but today is Father's Day in the US. Now it's my job to help my kid to become a loving, responsible person. To teach her swimming, be there for her whenever she needs me, be the best father I can be. It's going to be a lot of work. And a lot of fun.
You did your job. You worked hard all your life. You deserve to leave this world and rest for a while. You must be tired.
No worries, we'll take care of things. You don't have to fight anymore, we'll take the fight from here. Just know that I love you. And miss you.
I hope you understand.