October 13, 2010



It is hard to believe it has been a year since my Dad died. I have processed so much as one is apt to do when you lose someone so dear. I went through intense sadness and grief, then some anger, then more sadness, then some joy as I thought of the wonderful things my dad passed to me that makes me individual, creative and full of life. Dads have SO much power and influence on us. When my dad was alive, I always tried to make him proud of me. I continue to do so, maybe even more now. There is something about knowing your dad approves of you that drives each of us so much.

I am reprising this blog entry for two reasons; one is to somehow commemorate the anniversary of my dad's passing and the other is because a young man who has been in my life for a long time is in the same place. Eric is one of my son's CORE friends and he lost his dad this week.

Eric is an awesome young man. He is a collegiate football player, has an incredible sense of humor (which I pray helps him get through this) and an infectious laugh. He is one of those people who simply is a joy to be around and he is one of my LOST buddies (meaning we spent hours watching episode after episode after episode together in my living room with my sons). Eric's dad was and is very proud of him, because Eric is PURE GOLD. Eric's dad did a good job of adding to the world with Eric and his brother, two very fine humans. Eric is only twenty-two and it seems very unfair that he will have to travel life's ups and downs without his dad. I know the burn of this, because I lost my mom when I wasn't that much older than him.

Sometimes God gives us good substitutes here on earth until we are reunited with those we love. I am more than willing to be a substitute for this fine young man. I would be proud to have Eric call me dad, so I will do what I can to fulfill a "dad" role for him in any way he needs me to.

We are in a club that neither of us would choose to be in. We are not orphans though, because we have another Father. The one that looks down with love on us and loves us no matter what we do.

If you are the praying kind, please pray for my buddy Eric and if you think about it, throw a few prayers skyward for the University of Wyoming Cowboys, that's football for those of you who didn't know, and especially for #36, who's father will now have the best seat in the house!

Here's to our dads Eric!

Dad, inevitably telling mom a story.

I lost my dad yesterday and my heart is heavy. My heart is also so full, because he was a good dad and a good man and in many ways believed in me and championed my life. My dad was an English professor for forty years and read many of my drafts and sent them to me with thoughtful, encouraging and great notes over the years (he also had a wicked, good red pen that he used liberally and gracefully to instruct).

I talked to my dad for hours every Saturday. He was literally one of the most interesting people I have ever known. It seemed he knew something about everything I mentioned. Well traveled, well taught, opinionated but willing to hear the other side too. I will miss our talks more than I even realize now.

My dad tried in vain for years to get published and wrote some four novels that have never been read. BUT, my dad was SO happy and proud of my success in the literary world, he felt as though he shared in my success and he did. Perhaps somehow my dad's work will get another look.

So what I do when I feel deeply is write, get it out, get it down and deal with it. My first published book, My Garden Visits, was a book I wrote after losing my mom. At first I wrote it for just me, to purge, to get my sorrow and memories down on paper and out of my body, my head, my heart. Soon the words turned into a book and traveled into many homes to help others to deal with the same. It liberated me to do what mom would have wished for my life. To use my passion and to live everyday as thought it might be my last. To leave a lasting impression, which I have tried and am trying to do daily.
Mom never got to see me as an author. She too was a professor of English and German and would love nothing more than to know her son went on in life to spread more entertainment, amusement and books into the world. I know she knows.

Last spring I was asked to submit the following for an anthology by authors. I haven't heard back from the publisher, so I can now assume they didn't choose mine. But, it seemed appropriate to post it, so someone could read it.

Mom, listening with rapt attention, or thinking, wow, when will this one end? Looks like she is asleep with her eyes open, lol. Dad could go on a bit... hmmm... is that where I get that?

Bit of enduring wisdom received as a child –
My Father had a mantra that he seemed to only repeat to me, never my brother who was a boy, and is a man of few words. My father would say to me, “There is a virtue in learning when to keep your mouth shut.” It took me a long time to understand what he was saying. I now know that when my mouth is shut others are open and with the ratio of two ears to one mouth I learn twice as much as I teach.

Most people like to be listened to and some tell the same story over and over, assuming everyone is interested. People simply want to heard and often tensions, stress and in the most escalated case wars are caused by parties feeling they aren’t being listened to or heard. Dad also said to leave the world much better than you found it. He did. He left me and I will go on trying to leave the world better.

“A laughing minute is one well spent, for time has up and gone and went...”

Wisdom to a child

Time is fleeting,
Time is short,
Laugh every day until you snort...
A minute gone,
And then another...
And soon your older;
A dad or mother.
You only get so many days,
So spend each of them well.
So you'll have stories
to someday, sometime tell.

Thank you Dad!
Thank you Mom!


Tom Kimball said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Kimball said...

Our heart-felt, and deepest condolences, Justin. I lost my father 12 years ago this month, so this is particularly poignant for me. I know how much your father meant to you. Please know that you and your family are in our prayers. Love you, man.

Kelly said...

Lovely poem, Justin. My sincere condolences to you and your family!

Bessie Ann Allison said...

Justin, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Words seem inadequate, but I love you. Bessie

Bonnie said...

My heart goes out to you Justin. What a beautiful tribute. I lost my mom 9 years ago and I know what an emptiness losing a parent can leave. You are lucky to have had such wonderful parents.

ps. I know your Mom knows about your success.

Kay Byrd said...

I believe there is probably a grieving young boy or girl out there in kid-land who has lost their parent (or parents) too, who would be comforted by a Justin Matott inspiration!

Such a gift you have, Justin.
Such a beautiful and poignant way you can and do touch lives!





Laughter and sensitivity!


Paige said...

I am sorry to read about your loss, you are all in our thoughts.

I enjoyed your poem, seems you can always pull out a smile.

Justin Matott said...

Thank you each for taking the time to comment about my tribute. It really means a lot to me and my family.

Terra said...

I was very sad when I heard about this today. Life is so short and so precious and such a gift and yet so often wasted - I can see that your family is/was an important part of your life and I think that is wonderful. Hang on to the memories...

Anita said...

Justin, I'm so sorry to read about your loss, but you have such a beautiful way of remembering your parents. I agree with Bonnie, your mom knows of your success, and no doubt she is filled with pride and happiness for you.

Paige said...

Very touching, I will be thinking of Eric this week.