On Tuesday, June 16th we said goodbye to my dad. The service was beautiful and many came out to celebrate dad’s life. This is the third family member in less than 8 months we have said goodbye to. It has been a difficult few months, but we are persevering and trusting in God to get us through each day. Below is what I shared about dad at his service on Tuesday.
The first man I ever loved was my dad. I guess for most little girls their first love is their daddy's
Although I didn't know it at the time, dad set the foundation for the man of my future. Someone who would be very special in my life. Dad's have a way of doing things we are not always aware of.
My dad was great at so many things. He could build or fix just about anything. He built most of our house. He was a hard worker and I thought he was pretty amazing.
Dad had a great sense of humor. He was very ornery and loved to tell jokes. I recall many jokes he and I would share back and forth at the supper table over the years. Some were very funny and some were pretty corny.
I would like to share with you just a few memories that stand out in my mind:
When my brother Jimmy and I were growing up we always wanted to go with dad to the firehouse for the weekly siren and radio test. This always involved pulling out all of the trucks and testing each radio. I could not wait to get to ride on the fire truck! You may be thinking we went somewhere, when in reality we only went a few feet, just enough to pull the trucks out of the bay, but to me it was fun and exciting to be able to go along with dad.
When we were waiting for my youngest brother Bill to be born, I decided that I had enough brothers and it was time for a sister (sorry Bill). Dad and I made an agreement that if it was a boy I would move out and if it was a girl he would move out. The day mom went into labor I called home every hour the hoping for the news of my little sister. It was not until I got home that I learned the gender of our newest family member. There was a suitcase in front of my bedroom door. I quickly realized that I was happy with another brother!
Memories are so important. They seem like such little things when they are happening, just little bits of everyday life, but when you look back you realize how precious and important those memories are and they were truly the big things in life!
Dad taught me many things. I don't know if he realized what an impact he had on my life. As parents we can only hope that we are instilling good values and morals in our children, but I think sometimes we are not sure if the values and morals we hope to instill are reaching them. As a daughter I don't think I told him how important those morals and values ended up being in my life, but they have shaped me and helped me to become the person I am today.
Another thing he instilled in me was serving community. He was a volunteer firemen ever since I can remember. He got up at all hours of the night and there were many times in the middle of dinner he would leave to go out on a fire call. I can remember the pager (or plectron for those of you old enough to remember those) going off and dad racing out of the house to answer the call. I thought it was all very exciting and I was proud that my dad was a firefighter! I recall one particular time just after he built a new partition in the kitchen and was racing out the door to a fire call and ran right into it forgetting it was there!
When Larry and I first started dating there was a fire call. Larry got to experience first hand dad jumping up and racing out the door to his truck! He had no idea what was going on. I explained that this was a frequent occurrence nothing out of the ordinary! I guess it must have impressed or rubbed off since not long after we were married Larry too joined the fire company and learned to jump up and run out the door and into his truck, although I don't think he was ever quite as fast as dad was!
The most important thing that dad taught me was faith in God. Growing up we always attended church as a family. I remember very few occasions that we missed going. I have not always been faithful and have strayed from the path over my life, but I always went back and in the last 10 or so years my faith in God has grown tremendously and I have a personal relationship with Jesus. Dad laid that foundation for me many years ago. It is that faith that has gotten me through these last eight months and to this moment. I cannot imagine going through all of this without that faith and knowing I'm spending eternity with Jesus and seeing my loved ones again.
Our family has had it's share of hard times too. All families do whether it is public knowledge or not. We like the world to always see the good times, the happy family, but in reality none of us are perfect, but we love each other in spite of our imperfections, arguments, disagreements and brokenness. We are a family.
Eight months ago my life changed very dramatically in a way I never imagined would happen to me. Dad was diagnosed with cancer and not two weeks later Larry was gone. GONE, just like that. God never promised that we would not face hardships and challenges nor did he promise not to give us more than we can handle, but he did promise to always be with us.
Over these last months I have watched dad slowly fade away and become a shell of the man he once was. Our bodies will fail, whether by disease, or trauma or natural death. There is no escaping it, it is a journey we all will take one day. I am thankful that I have had this time with Dad to see him and spend time with him and tell him I love him. I am thankful for all that he taught me. I will hold his memory in my heart always.
Today is a celebration of his life, to know he is not suffering or in pain.
Death is not an end it is just the beginning. I love you dad.
And finally I would like to leave you with this from Isaiah 43:2
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.