Mourning, Grief, and Community

My beloved father, Gerald Rasmussen, died on Monday 30 September 2013, of cancer, after two months in hospice care. I will post the “official” obituary on Friday, and I plan to post all the chapters and photos from his memoir Remembering Japan¬†between now and the end of the year.

I have often said he is the best dad and let me briefly describe why. Yes, he was an educator, and a good one, as well as a man who worked within the community college system to make education accessible to people who had otherwise been shut out of college. He knew US history well; it was difficult to “surprise” him because he had studied and thought about most of the many vectors and layers that have created the tapestry of this country’s history. In his own small way he took part in the civil rights movement. He was better than the paid pundits in analyzing current events. He was genuinely interested in people, and listened when they spoke. After he retired he took up bread baking and won ribbons at the county fair.

As a daughter, I received a precious gift from my dad: He accepted me for who I was. From early on I was infamous for being stubborn and difficult, but I don’t think he particularly found me so. I did not fit into the gender roles of my time, but he didn’t press me to change. He supported me, and let me be myself.

Oddly enough, these sparse comments aren’t really why I’m writing this post. When I tweeted that my father had died, both on Twitter and on Facebook I received so many kind comments. I first ventured onto the internets in 1990. I have never found it a soulless shallow place but rather a place of community, where I have connected and listened and learned.

As far as I know there is no “right” way to do grief and mourning, rather various ways, each particular to the circumstance and hour and person. We are all, always, in the process of transition from the state we are in into what we are becoming.

For reasons that I’m not going to go into here and now, I can only imperfectly sit shiva for my father. Because of that, and because of the nature of community, I thought I would ask people to “visit” me here, on my blog, if they feel so inclined.

I would love to hear stories about educators who were important to you.

Or mentions of people, now gone, who have been a blessing in your life.

Or a discussion of what community means to you. And if you think there is community online and, if so–or if not–what that means.