My father passed away earlier this year after a painful battle with cancer. When you lose a loved one, it is devastating. Even though I was happy that he was no longer suffering, there were days when I couldn’t stop crying. I learned that, with grief, you have to take it one day at a time and learn how to find the happiness amid the heartbreak. For me, I work to remember the lessons that my father taught me throughout my life.
My dad was the first man I ever loved. He loved sports—he played baseball, basketball and football in college and was a coach for many years. His favorite sport was golf, and that was the first one I ever learned. He also had the challenging task of disciplining me as a kid! But as I got older, that discipline turned into instruction and advice.
He always emphasized being kind and respectful to others and to just be yourself. He was the most positive person I knew. If you asked him how he was doing, he would say, “Best day of my life.” Even when he was battling cancer, every day was the best day.
His generosity was incredible. I remember as a kid when we moved to Atlanta, one night my dad brought home one of his coworkers and his whole family—including his kids. I asked my dad if we were having a slumber party, and he laughed and said yes. But I later realized that he was letting this coworker stay because they were strapped for cash and didn’t have anywhere else to go.
He became the person that I would always talk to when I was considering a big life decision. I remember when I was visiting him in the hospital in Atlanta earlier this year and was auditioning for The Taming of the Shrew for Shakespeare in the Park. I had the script with me, and so to break up the monotony, I asked him if he could help me learn my lines.
“I don’t know if I can handle Shakespeare!” he said, but I told him it didn’t matter; all I needed was for someone to say the words. He began to read the lines and said, “Wait, I know this play!” Apparently a few years before that, my parents had been traveling in Europe and in London they saw a play—Taming of the Shrew.
We practiced my lines together on that visit, and later I found out that I had gotten the part. At the same time, I was offered a role in a TV series that was overseas. I called him up immediately to see what he thought. He of course preferred me to do the job that was closer to home, but he told me to do what made me happy. And what made me happy was the thought of him seeing the play that we had practiced together.
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The loss of my father will always sting. But now, everything that I do is in honor of him and celebrates his life. I believe that you have to find the joy in the sorrow because it’s that same sorrow that was once your delight. And my father was my delight.
Adrienne C. Moore is an actress known for her work on Orange is the New Black.