Get Busy Living

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

—Stephen King, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’

Today’s story is contributed by Jason Dwurple.

Mom died in 2011. Her loss devastated Dad and me. We discovered that we had a choice…

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Let me explain…
Dad and Mom met in high school. Within a few days, they were inseparable. They were best friends first. That was a time when it was unusual for boys and girls to have that kind of relationship.

get busy living

Dad, Mom, and Jason years ago.

Dad was a tough guy, a boxer. Mom was also an athlete, a track star. They did everything together. She helped him train. He ran with her in the mornings. They spoke late into the night on the phone. Within a year, they had fallen in love.

After high school, they were engaged. Married. I was born. Our family from that point on as close as a family could be. Jokes and teasing were the norm; so were morning and bedtime hugs. Mom and Dad — two crazy lovebirds, an inseparable team.

So when mom died suddenly in 2011 — a heart attack with no warning — I was devastated. But for Dad the pain was unbearable. He plunged into an abyss. He lived in void. Mom was his life. He was lost.

“Half of me died,” he told me. “How can I go on?”
Get busy living

Mom and Jason, 2009

I came back from California to stay with him. His gaze was empty. He barely spoke. If it weren’t for me helping out, I wonder if he wouldn’t have starved.

I knew I had to do something. So I brought him to my home. And I created a new routine — for him and for me.

We walked at first. Through the town and the woods. I did most of the talking. Dad listened (or pretended he was).

After a few weeks of learning the “routes,” we stepped it up. We began running — father and son, side-by-side—just like Mom and Dad used to. I took Dad along when I did stuff with friends. We went sailing, to ball games, to shows.

I was trying to show Dad how to live again.
What happened? I taught myself.

Dad slowly came back to himself… A different self, with my mother gone, but a whole self nonetheless. He made friends. He smiled. He took care of himself. Within a year, he bought a place near mine.

Once a “taboo” subject, we now share memories of Mom. We’re closer than ever before.

In his breakdown, Dad gave me a gift. He allowed me to help heal him. In the process, I healed myself.

The world we are born into: strange, unpredictable, often scary, indeed. Who steps in to show us the way and alleviate the “scare”? Our dads.

But things sometimes change. Roles reverse. Dads can need us.

Don’t be afraid: It’s an honor to take the helm. And when you do, the greatest gift may be the one you receive.

Jason Dwurple


Jason is a software engineer who lives and works in Silicon Valley, California. His father, Bob, is a retired contractor. After Jason’s mother, Linda, passed away in 2011, Bob moved from northern Virginia to California to be closer to his only son.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current month ye@r day *