My father would have turned 80 this week if he had only lived long enough to turn 47. His life was cut short. Way too short. But isn’t every life? There is always more to do, more to learn, more to love. The beginning and end of life are unpredictable, influenced by a mysterious blend of timing and luck.

In many ways, my dad was a modern-day Renaissance man — intellectual, athletic, musical, cultured, and curious. At parties, he was known to hold court at the piano, playing songs that comforted and inspired him — Gershwin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel. Others would sometimes…