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Inspired two years posthumously
January, 2002 article appearing in the national newsletter of Shotokan Karate of America.

By Lee Quintanar, Simi Valley

The night sky was clear and cold, with bright stars above the ocean surf, for the first practice of Long Beach Winter Special Training 2002. As I ran along the beach, I was reminded of running on that same beach two years earlier at Special Training, as my 63-year-old father lay severely ill in a Woodland Hills hospital. I had been at his hospital bedside often during the previous three months, despite living and working in Boulder, Colorado. I watched as he suffered through surgery to remove cancer in his colon and liver, and the post-surgery pneumonia that wasted away his body. After awhile he recovered, but was later returned to intensive care, where he became unconscious, and was struck once more with severe pneumonia.

He passed away on Saturday evening, in the midst of Special Training. Before he died, I had returned quickly to his bedside, as news came that his condition was worse. He had suffered so much trying to stay alive for us, and his body's racking pain was obvious. I told him that if he must leave us, it was okay, and that we'd have the doctor remove the respirator he so detested. After awhile, I watched with my family as his life left him between breaths; one moment he was there, and the next he was gone. With the blessings of my mother and sister, I returned to finish Special Training, and to celebrate Dad's life in the best way I could: by offering up my training, sweat and cleanest feeling to his spirit.

Upon my return, I received understanding and support from David Lechuga, Tom Muzila, Greg Scott, and my Boulder dojo comrades Ross Jacobson and Mark Wilson, as well as support from others who attended, and I felt that I finished especially strong for Dad. As I ran along that beach two years ago, listening to the ocean waves and watching the stars, I sent my best energies and thoughts of health to connect with my father. Now, I could only offer a son's love to the silent twinkling stars above. I have always felt that the timing of his death held a special message for me. Dad used to joke about Special Training and the apparent craziness one must have to participate. He would joke that I should just pay him the fee and he'd be happy to beat me with a stick! But when he was serious, it was clear how proud he was of his son's accomplishments in karate, school, work, and life. Since that time I've met some amazing people who have broadened my life and expanded its precious moments in special ways. There are no coincidences. It has been a continuation of Dad's message. Life is over and gone quickly. It is the defining moments in Life -- like Special Training -- that make us feel fully alive and give our lives meaning. Be at the forefront of the moment, and build good memories for the future.



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