Last Wednesday, at 7:00 AM, my dad passed away.  My mom had to watch it happen so suddenly, so rapidly, and it came completely out of nowhere.

About ten years ago, my dad had a heart attack at the age of 42.  It happened around the time of 9/11, and I remember him joking that he had his first week off from work in a long time, and there would only be one thing on TV.  Since then, he’s watched his weight, gave up smoking, and done what he can to lose weight.  My dad was never a large, lumbering blob of fat, so please don’t think that’s the case at all.  His half of the family has a big blood pressure problem, and I know I have it as well.

So last Wednesday, it was his heart that did him in.  I still can’t quite believe he’s gone.  I don’t think he’ll walk through the door and tell us he was playing a joke on everyone, but I keep having these moments where I realize that he’s gone, that he isn’t coming back, and this is what my life is going to be like from here on out.  He was 52 when he was taken from us.  In hindsight, I’m so glad we were all able to go to Europe over spring break.  It was one of our last family things we did together, and we have so many memories from that trip.  My mom, sister, and I should consider ourselves fortunate that we were able to spend that great week (for them, two weeks) with him.

 

Posted below is the eulogy I read at his service.  I wanted to post this for two reasons.  One, I want a record of it somewhere out there in the universe.  Two, we had family and friends asking for copies of this and this seemed an easy way to distribute the news and the eulogy.  When my aunt sends me her eulogy, I will include it in a new post as well.

 

Thanks.

 

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For My Dad

A few weeks ago, my dad came out to visit me out in Durant. I knew he wanted to talk about my job search, what my plans for the summer were, and about life in general. He told me about how he started out his job hunt, how difficult it was for him and his friends throughout his life to find or change careers, and he wanted me to find something I could do that would give me the freedoms he had. He told me he was fortunate to have a job he liked, but at the end of the day, it was a way for him to treat his loved ones and himself to the things we loved. I told Mom just the other day that we have never really wanted for anything, but Melanie and I both feel like we were never spoiled.

After our talk, we had lunch at a local diner and went to a nearby driving range. The rest of my time with Dad was relaxing. We hit maybe a hundred balls in the gorgeous, sunny weather.  Dad critiqued about 70% of my hits with tips on what I can do better. ‘Tighten your grip’ and ‘You’re chopping at the ball like a lumberjack’ were his two favorite criticisms that day. Every time though, he always reminded me that the first time on the course, after a long time of not playing, you’re going to be terrible. All I needed was to practice and I’d get better.

We found a single ball in the bag, one that had partially-broken open and you could touch the core inside. I said I wanted to hit it, but I knew I couldn’t hit it well enough to save my life. Dad took the ball and gave it a perfectly executed swing. It may have only gone 100 yards, but I remember the sound of the ball as it moved through the air, like a playing card in the spokes of a bike. Even on the silly things, Dad always did everything to his standard of perfection. He always put his whole effort into everything he did, because he knew that hitting that freak golf ball would make me smile and laugh.

I wanted to give just a short list of other memories that I thought of as I prepared these remarks:

-late nights in his workshop, making a Pinewood Derby car move a tenth of a second faster

-mispronouncing every French word in France and questioning Melanie on how to move through the Metro

-setting up a beach perimeter that kept every inconsiderate beach bum away from the pristine, tide-proof spot of sand

-getting me interested in video games with games like Rise of the Triad, a game that was far inappropriate for a nine year old to be playing

-both Melanie and I working alongside Dad at Gage, spending some quality time with him at work

-us three couples going out on triple dates where everyone wins because Mom and Dad paid

-making everyone car sick when driving on Galena’s hilly roads

-watching James Bond movies at full volume all day on Thanksgiving instead of playing dominoes

-6:33 and 1/2 AM cream fill runs

Dad was always there, from Boy and Girl Scouts, Indian Guides and Princesses, as our coach for baseball and basketball, our cheerleader when he couldn’t coach, our audience when we were on stage, our driver to Amana, Stone Harbor, Galena, and Destin.  Dad was our role model that Melanie and I both know we will strive to live up to.  He did so much for us, never asking for a thing in return, whether it was scraping snow off of the cars in the driveway, killing spiders, or cleaning the litter box when no one else could (or would).

Dad and I never really said we loved each other that often, that is more Melanie’s thing, but I don’t feel like I’ve lost out. I knew he loved me, and I’ve never doubted that. Dad has always had Mom’s, Melanie’s and my best interests in mind, because Dad was not the kind of guy who expressed his feelings in words.  He spoke to us through his actions and the care that he showed to everyone who came into his life. My dad will be missed by so many people for different reasons.  If love could have saved him, none of this would have happened, but I know in my heart that he will always be watching over us in the years to come.

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