Today is the 23 year anniversary of my father’s death. To commemorate, here’s an excerpt from my upcoming memoir Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary.
It snowed the day of my father’s funeral. Giant white snowflakes flurried out of the sky. It was unusual weather that seemed to come out of nowhere. Poignant. I dyed my hair black. I didn’t think about it. I wasn’t being dramatic. I just did it. I stood outside the crematorium and watched the snow fall on the flowers stacked up outside as I read the cards from each person. The outpouring of support from these people I didn’t even know moved me. My father had touched many lives.
Hundreds of people showed up to the memorial service. Crowds shuffled in and stood in the back. Every seat in the church filled. Why so many people? What made him so special? It’s a question I’ve asked many of his friends since, and they say the same thing: “Your father was inspiring.” He lived his life fully, piloting a hot air balloon like it was a fast car, cracking bad jokes and winning hearts, loving his family, and bringing people together. As I turned back from my spot in the front pew next to my mother, I saw the crowd gathered to mourn my dad, and I realized my goal in life: Inspire enough people to fill a church when I die.
My mother, head held high, wearing a flowing red cape and wide brimmed hat, stood at the front on the church and read from a Richard Bach book. A story about a creature that clung to the rocks at the bottom of a river, because that’s all he knew. But one day he got bored of clinging, and let go. When the creatures downstream saw him float by they thought it was a miracle. He said to them “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.”