Section I - Death Came Romuald Magryta
May 2nd, 2022
I find that life is sending me many signals around feeling, death and life. Between completing a men's retreat last week, whereby I witnessed many amazing men challenging themselves to be better versions of themselves for their families and the population at large by looking deep inside to work through pain and locked in feelings of all sorts. I have never seen such courage and bravery in person. You could not help but be impacted and mirrored as you witness another work on their life. My work was heavily concentrated on the deaths that occurred throughout my medical career.
I had thought that I had processed these experiences well. Alas, that turns out to be a farce of my own design. One that appears to have been propagated by the safety of not feeling that which is hard to feel and or face. Such is the common path of the physician.
Now, this week marks a major shift in my existence. On April 27th, at the wonderful age of 86, my father left me.
He has been my best teacher, best cheerleader and best friend. There are no words to describe the feeling of loss that sits inside me at this moment. Many have felt this same feeling at the loss of their father and for your pain I am sorry. I feel for you. It is a surreal and unimaginable moment until it just is, a moment. I want to share my thoughts on my father as I believe that he, like many other fathers, exemplified what I want to aim for in my own fatherhood with my two children. To share his story is also to honor fathers everywhere that toil for their offspring until they no longer are allowed to. My father is now in that group. No longer allowed to teach me or my children. That is a hard pill to swallow, but swallow I must.
There is no greater gift that a father can give a child but the gift of life so they say. I would beg to differ. The greatest gift that a father can give his child is to teach him or her how to live with honor, integrity and authenticity. My father did that better than anyone I could have imagined. He achieved that goal. He is the gift that God gave me to live with an open heart and a free mind.
But this story is really about a man from Sitno, Poland. Born in 1936, my father endured hardship right from the beginning. A simple farming life was quickly turned into a transitory refugee life by the Nazi's and World War II. He had to grow up without primary school education and the typical childhood friendships and experiences that I took for granted. Life was what it was and he endured. He moved to the United States aboard to SS Eltinge after his parents got the green light from the US government to immigrate to New Orleans. But, hardship awaited yet again. He was a Catholic and was not accepted in the southern and midwestern states. Migration again found him in Perth Amboy, NJ where an enclave of Polish Immigrants had taken root.
Being the youngest of four children to Francziska and Karol Magryta, he often related stories of sleeping at his sister's feet and learning from the girls. He was closest to his sister, Danusia, with whom he had a kindred spirit. These experiences helped him tap into the female divine energy that kept him soft and caring. He was a profoundly loving person seeing good where most saw less than.
My father embodied love. He was a peacemaker, a happy man with a big smile and a lover of dancing. But above all, he believed in God and the guidance that Jesus Christ would provide for him. And provide he did. The guideposts of God and the American Dream were the pillars of his ethos. He stood strong on the principles of honor, integrity, love and passion. I remember my father picking up a dropped 20$ bill and returning it to the owner. As a 6 year child in 1976, that act spoke very loudly.
He gave me half of my heart, half of my mind and half of everything else that I hold dear. He gave to me selflessly whether it was waking up on a rainy day to help me deliver newspapers as a young teenager or guiding me through tough times with tough parenting when I was acting less than honorably.
My father was stoic, he was gentle. He was fiercely proud to be Polish and American. Sometimes more so the latter because of all that America gave him. He was present. In other words, he was a man. And he was a man that I have tried to emulate all of my life. I have tried to be the son that he could be proud of. That is the true gift of a father. A true and unquestionable mentor and role model. You could watch, listen and learn your way through this life because he was there.
He was the greatest man that I knew and know. And with that statement I leave only this. I will miss him beyond words as I try to make him proud to my end..........
Blessings to all who suffer with the loss of a father. To those who still have one or more, take it from me, don't waste the precious moments as they tick away. I am so grateful I spent the extra time with him these last few years,