Monday, March 27, 2006

My Dad's Eulogy

I gave the Eulogy at my Dad's funeral last week. Seriously the hardest thing I've ever done. He is (yes- is) a GOOD man and a wonderful father. I need to be the kind of person that he is. Here are my notes (minus last names):

My Dad was born in _______ Indiana to Robert _________ Jr. and Martha June ___. He was an only child for 10 years until his brother Chris was born, and shortly after that his sister Hope. Both my grandparents worked and so my Dad cared for his siblings. He loved to play army even then and would take his brother out in his stroller when he was a baby to take care of him while he played army with his friends. He would use the stroller as his tank. 13 year later he had one more sister born- just shortly before my birth.

When he was seven my grandmother was baptized into the LDS church. My dad embraced the gospel and knew it was true from that early age. He was once left with some neighbors when he was a child while his parents went out of town. The neighbors were not members of the church- but my Dad insisted that they find the nearest building and take him. They dropped him off and came and picked him up when the services were over. They went back again and are now faithful members of the church.

I remember my Dad telling us about reading scriptures to his siblings while he was watching them- and I’ve read in his journals about him holding FHE with them. That is something that we always did in our home. We always had FHE and scripture study- the scripture study usually happened in the wee hours of the morning before school- and with lots of moaning and groaning. But he was persistent in doing it and for that I am grateful.

My Dad LOVES people- anyone and everyone was worth his time and attention. He was genuine in his attention and love for people. He could be in a new place and within 10 minutes know the history of the building, the owner and his life story- and then 10 years later remember even the smallest detail of that meeting. When we were at a small town diner in Arizonia once I walked in about 10 minutes before my dad and my Dad told me some details about the history of the building. I asked him how he knew that and he told me that the diner owner had told him. I asked him if he knew him (because my Dad seemed to know everyone everywhere) and he said that he didn’t until they got here. That was typical Dad. He also loved to stop and read every informational sign everywhere we went- the zoo, museum, road trips ect. It drove us crazy- but it’s how he knew so much about the world around him.

There is a man named Russell that is one of my Dad’s greatest friends. He came to visit my Dad on a regular basis before his diagnosis- and continued to come after. Russell is developmentally disabled- but that didn’t seem to bother my Dad. He loved Russell and saw his worth as a child of God. That example shows more about the worth of people to my Dad then anything that he actually said.

In a notebook that my Dad kept of his thoughts when he was 17 he wrote:
We seldom think of the damage we cause when we turn away a friend, or anyone. We fail to look into each other’s hearts, and only do we see the surface actions; which may be harsh. Yes, we comprehend too little, learn to little, and are unkind too much. How often do we clumsily thrust our hands through the heart-strings of a friend.

He didn’t just say this- but lived it in his daily life.

I remember hearing him talk about people that he’d met on airplanes when he traveled for business- until I started traveling I didn’t realize how truly difficult it is to really get to know the person sitting next to you on the plane- but my Dad made it sound easy.

I also remember as a child my Dad bringing a man home that we didn’t know- and it seems to me that he found him at the park- but I’m not entirely sure. But he brought him home and this man was making crab legs or frog legs for us- I’m not sure which. That is a classic Dad though, always making friends of the friendless.

He loved the people of Latin America as well. He took many trips to different countries there to do service or to work with the National Guard. He loved to speak Spanish and used every opportunity that he could.

My Dad also loved to play and have fun- but he turned anything that he did into fun. He went to work and talked to people on the phone all day solving their computer problems- so that was fun since he was talking to people. He also played with his co-workers either shooting rubber bands at each other or trying to scare the women with rubber spiders and bugs. I remember going to work with him on several occasions and being surprised at how much playing they did. Every year his office did a big Halloween party and had costume contests and every year he came up with a bigger and better costume. I don’t think that he ever did win- but he sure enjoyed it. He LOVED Halloween- I’m pretty sure it was his favorite holiday.

He served as a Marine when my parents were first married and loved serving his country. When I was in High School he joined the Utah National Guard and ‘got’ to play army one weekend a month- which he loved. It was fun to him.

He enjoyed scouting- he found true joy in doing things outdoors and with the young men in the ward.

We did lots of things as a family. We went camping on a regular basis and even though I only have one brother camping was never a ‘boy’ thing. He took all of us, my brother, my seven sisters and I, camping at least a couple times a year. We always went on family vacations- nothing huge and elaborate and nothing expensive, but lots of fun together. Camping was always a part of that and I know that my Dad saw the wisdom in bonding over a campfire and knowing that there is something about that setting that softens hearts and brings people closer together. I suspect there are many people here who have sat across a campfire with my Dad and talked.

Another game my Dad loved to play was ‘war’. He made elaborate castles out of Styrofoam computer packing that he’d bring home and we’d set up on either end of our long family room and set up a certain amount of little army men and then either shoot rubber bands from one end of the room to the other or once we made catapults out of popsicle sticks and plastic spoons and we’d catapult dog food from one side of the room to the other. My mom didn't like the dog food idea so much.

But any way you look at it my Dad loved spending time with our family. His presence was always in our home. He liked to have fun together, learn about the gospel together and just generally be together.

He loves babies- loved to hold them and take care of them. We always said he had the magic touch- if one of my sisters was squirmy or generally irreverent during FHE or church they would have to sit on Dad’s lap. I remember them not wanting to because they knew that they would soon be asleep. It was guaranteed that within 5 minutes of my Dad holding a child they would fall asleep. He also loved to play his recorder for babies- and it always calmed them down.
He told me all the time how beautiful my babies were, he loved being a grandpa. I’m sad that my kids won’t get to know him in that capacity. When he was diagnosed with his brain tumor he only had two granddaughters- now he has nine.

He loved music, he loved to sing and loved to play his recorders. There was always music playing in our home. I remember classical music playing at dinner always- and I attribute my love of classical music to that.

My Dad loved airplanes. He just thought they were so cool. He could usually tell you what kind of airplane it was when I could hardly even make out that it was an airplane. Even now when I hear an airplane I point it out to my girls and they wave to it.

He also loves to serve. Even after his body had been ravaged by the cancer and the cancer treatments he wanted to serve and to be useful. He was so happy to be able to serve a church service mission in the humanitarian aid center in Provo. It made him so happy to feel useful and to be needed.

My dad also loves my mom. He had returned home from his mission and was doing his best to find a wife. He dated every woman even close to his age in the stake. He lived in Indiana at the time so there weren’t quite as many women as there are in our stake I’m sure. But he decided that it was time to go to BYU to find a wife. He went in to see the stake president to get his ecclesiastical endorsement and the stake president refused to sign it. Instead he told him that he wanted to extend a stake calling to him. My Dad was pretty upset and explained his plight to him. The Stake president asked him if he’d dated Karen ______ yet. He said that he hadn’t so the Stake president gave him my mom’s number. He called her that night and he says that at soon as my mom answered the phone he knew that she was the one, that he was going to marry her. They went out the next night, and the next night, and the night after that and so on. Within the week they were engaged. Six weeks later they were married in the Washington DC temple for time and all eternity. That’s the beauty of being married in the temple- my parents were married here on earth for 30 years. But he’s waiting for my mom and their relationship will continue for eternity.

My Dad loved the gospel of Jesus Christ with all his heart. He was constantly striving to do better, to be better and to live the gospel in its fullness. He did this with no thought to what other people thought of him- because the important thing to him was what his Heavenly Father though of him. He bore his testimony frequently and with all his heart. One of his scouts told me last night that he never heard another scout leader bear his testimony as often as my dad did. That was one of the last things that my Dad said to me before he died. "I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that he lives. This gospel is true. I know this." His testimony has been a source of strength to me in many times in my life.

I want to add my testimony to his- that God lives. That even though my Dad has left his mortal body that he still lives as well. Not in a vague way- but in a real, tangible way. His spirit lives on and is awaiting the day when it will be reunited with his body and made whole. That even now he’s progressing and learning and growing- and probably having a great deal of fun. He anxiously wanted to serve God when he passed on- and I believe that he is doing that.

Thank-you all for coming. The outpouring of love has been amazing. It truly is an example of the love my Dad gave that we are receiving so much love in return. Our family has been strengthened by your love and prayers these last four years and this last week.


Rachelle said...

What a beautiful eulogy. Thank you for sharing that. So many prayers still coming to you and your family.

ubercyl said...

Beautiful, Amber. What a wonderful man.

Lacey said...

I only met your father a few times, but it brought tears to my eyes to hear you talk of him.

QueenMeadow said...

That was so beautiful, Amber. Brought me to tears. Your dad was/is a wonderful man.

Lee said...

Amber, what an amazing eulogy. Thank you for sharing what a great guy your dad was. You are in my prayers.

Heather said...

Wow, I just cried...what a wonderful eulogy.

Sabra said...

that is beautiful, amber. what a tribute--both your words and you, his daughter.

andrea said...

You wrote a beautiful, wonderful eulogy. I'm glad you posted it so we could read about him. It reminds me of how much fun I had getting to know your family. It also reminds me of how our parents became instant friends and our two families had so much fun together. You are in my prayers.

Valarie said...

((Hugs)) you did a fabulous job. I wish I could have known him.

Char said...

Thanks for posting this, Amber. I know I pestered you about it. (((HUGS))