Monday, October 27, 2014

a eulogy for dad

It's been two weeks. Two weeks since his death.

I keep wondering when this sadness will go away. Some days, when it is quiet...while I'm nursing Greta or late at night...I think about dad. I think about so much. And I cry. It still doesn't feel real.

A day didn't go by that I didn't think of him while he was living...and I've thought about him everyday since he died.

About a year ago, when Jon, Greta, and I were visiting dad, it was a day much like the day he died. Autumn. Warmer. Beautiful blue skies. We sat outside during most of the visit. Greta was just a couple months old and was getting restless. Dad was looking off in the distance. I always wondered what he was thinking...especially after the stroke.

So I  asked him what he was thinking about...not expecting much of a response, but the words which came out his mouth made me tear up.

"What it all means," he said, with a flourish of his hand.

"I wish I knew," I replied and took his hand and gave it a squeeze.

We went back inside to leave and I asked dad if he wanted to come back inside. He didn't. He stayed outside as the sun was beginning to set and all I could think of for the next few days was what it all means.

I wanted to say so much about him. I wanted everyone to know what a wonderful father he was to me. The words I wrote below for his funeral don't nearly sum up all that he was to me...but these were the words that came to me in the time between his death and funeral.

Matt or Ryan mentioned "ding-dongs"...something I nearly forgot. I loved it when he did "ding-dongs"...where he would pick us up by our ankles and hold them to his ears and swing us back and forth like a clock. "Ding-dong, ding-dong" the bell tower which bellowed for ten minutes after we returned him to the earth.

My dad was a gentleman, in every sense of the word.

He loved books, music, pineapple upside down cake( pineapple anything, really. He was always making this pineapple jello cheesecake thing that nobody ate but him), basketball, Jeopardy! (He knew all the answers), poetry, old movies (particularly "The Sound of Music" and "White Christmas") and his children. Oh! How he loved his children.

Though he never outwardly said the words, "I love you" to us, he said it through music when he sang to us..."Too-ra-loo-ra" and "A Bushel and a Peck" were in heavy rotation at our house. He had a voice like Bing Crosby.

He said it through hugs when he would leave for work at night. I never wanted to let him go...he would pick me up and squeeze me so tight. He called them bear hugs.

My dad was a great speaker. He spoke in front of hundreds or even thousands at conventions for the Witnesses...though I was too little to remember this. I knew him more of a great listener. I could talk to my dad about anything and everything. He made it easy. He was just that kind of person. Gentle. Kind. Loving. As you would hope any parent to be.

Sometimes I would go and sit on his bed while he was trying to sleep after working all night and ask him for advice on a boy I liked or for help on my homework. He would always listen and even in his sleepy stupor, would offer his advice or try to explain how to multiply fractions. I'd thank him,give him a kiss, and tell him to get some sleep already. I loved this time we shared together. For a good twenty years, I don't know that my dad ever got much more than five hours of sleep a day.

When I close my eyes and think about being a child and growing up with my dad, I am reminded of his soft but large hands that enveloped mine whenever he held my hand. I think about "whoopie" hills and slowing down to 15 miles per hour to push the ejection button to catapult you onto your front lawn. I think about sitting on his big wide foot and taking rides on his leg and the way he said "browners" when you farted in front of him. His bear hugs, the way he danced like Elvis and sang like no body else I've ever heard. I think about "swickers" and singing with him in the car. I think about all the lame jokes he told and the fact that he would actually laugh at his own jokes. I think about how he would sing to my friend in particular who shared a name with his favorite grandmother. The way he could comfort me by simply being near me. He just had a calm about him.

Perhaps the thing I loved the most about my dad was the fact that he never sugar coated anything. Even when I was a young child. He gave it to us straight...always. Even if the truth hurt. "Dad, does this dress make me look fat?" "Oh hon, you don't look THAT fat."

Despite the aforementioned comment, I've always felt like my dad and I were kindred spirits. we just had a bond that I knew was special. We were both born on a Sunday. He in 1938. I in 1983. I may have his nose. I'm not keeps growing, though. And I'm told it doesn't stop growing. We both love to write. He wrote for his school newspaper and so did I. And we are both really good at making people laugh...but I'm more of physical humor kind of gal.

Growing up, the only wish I ever had for my dad was for him to be happy...something I realize is the only wish I have for my own child.  But thinking about it now I realize he was. He found happiness in his children and I feel so very fortunate to have been his daughter.

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