I learned a lot from my Dad both in life and death. The harshness of death drives home certain lessons he told me many times over. I have many specific things to say about his perspective on life, but one powerful thing I've learned about the process of coping with death is that it makes you slow down and study a person's life. Some lyrics that hit me after his passing were: "people seem so ordinary when they're seen at such a fast speed." We have too many two second decisions in life, and we miss out on a lot of golden qualities in people.
My Dad probably told me thousands of times "don't worry, you can do it." I thought when he said these things about school, engineering, or sports that he was oversimplifying things because he was so smart and talented. I remember my quick reactions to these moments that kept me in endless self doubt: "Dad, you're way smarter than me" "Dad, I'm not as talented as you" "Dad, I can't do that". Yet, upon further inspection of his life, I realize we're actually not that different: we never accomplished great goals without a good amount of struggle.
He earned a full ride scholarships to UCLA for his good grades, but he still wasn't a perfect student. He was a starving student that would go on long rides up PCH (I did the same except running) and when he graduated with a PHD specializing in electrical engineering and lasers, things still weren't easy. He interned at Hughes in Culver City and earned a patent, but when that door closed he had to commute 90 minutes to TRW in Tustin (down the street from my first job at Cannon), and he bounced around a bit more until he secured a job at the RAND Corporation doing research and analysis for the military. Even there, he struggled with managers that disagreed with his work, but he was resolute in his mission to keep troops safe through superior technology and tactics.
When he would tell me "don't worry, you can do it" he was really telling me that worrying is worthless, and you will find a way things work. His perspective was that you can either live life worrying yourself sick or enjoying all the hills and valleys. He found success and comfort in confidence and patience.
To be Dr. Jonathan Grossman was to do difficult things with a good attitude, even when things seemed most bleak. When he got Parkinson's disease, it took him a long ways back from doing backflips and doing high level research and analysis, yet he still maintained a good attitude. It was like he just understood life's rhythm of setbacks and success and played as best as he could with the cards he was dealt.
I was lucky we got some really good memories together and we were close in his last years. We both knew that his outlook on life was moving on through me. In the big picture, we're all just trying to figure out life well enough to be happy. You have a unique pathway to your happiness, but good parents serve as guides. If your parents are happy, and they get to show you how to make your own happiness in life, well then, I think it's about as good as it gets.
Though it's true I'll always miss him, I'll also always be grateful for the moments we had together. Being his son was a honor, he was a great guy.