My dad passed away 6 years ago this month. I have been asked many times to share the talk that I gave at his funeral as I said goodbye to a giant of a man! Here is for you Dad, you will never be forgotten and we will always be blessed from your life and the example that it was for us.
Here is the talk:
The apostle Paul said in his second epistle to Timothy… I have fought a good fight…
There is no greater truth that could be said than this of my father… He fought a good fight. His life is a road map on enduring to the end and overcoming obstacles and trials.
I have spent much time reflecting on my father’s life this past week… I am reminded of my favorite Christmas show, one that as a child I fondly remember watching each Christmas eve with my parents.
It’s a Wonderful Life…..
A story of a man who is allowed to witness what others lives would be like, had he never been born…
Dad… your life has had a dramatic impact on every person who has had the privilege of knowing you… you have forever changed lives for the better of each and every person who knows and loves you…
My father was born on May 11, 1943….. As a child, he was abused, neglected, outcast, and abandoned by those who should have loved and supported him.. raised in poverty his mother didn’t want him and his father denied him…The only love my father was shown as a child came from his maternal grandparents whom he stayed briefly with as a child before being ripped away from that home to live with his abusive step father and mother. He with his little brother fought to survive amidst abuse, loneliness and heartache…He set goals for himself and he achieved them…My father knew without goals he would never be able to pull himself out of the intense pain and sorrow he was experiencing in his life..He excelled in school and in sports… He went on to swim for Granite High and his relay team set a new state record, one that would survive for nearly 2 decades..
My father would spend hours praying to be delivered from this sorrow and abuse… the Lord in his infinite mercy did not leave him, but provided my mother and her family and many great men as friends… answers to a young mans prayers..By marrying my mother and her families example, my father finally knew what family was supposed to be like… as was customary in all things with my father, he emulated and improved upon this for his own family and children..
In the August 1986 Ensign Dr Carl Broderick, a sociology professor at USC said; “God actively intervenes in some destructive lineages, assigning a valiant spirit to break the chain of destructiveness in such families.. Although these children may suffer innocently as victims of violence, neglect, and exploitation, through the strength of God, some find the strength to metabolize the poison within themselves refusing to pass it on to future generations. Before them were generations of destructive pain, after them the line flows clear and pure. Their children and their children’s children will call them blessed. In suffering innocently so that others might not suffer, such persons in some degree become as “saviors on mount zion” by helping to bring salvation to a lineage..”
Thank you dad for breaking the chain of violence and bringing salvation to our family… your children, grand children and great grandchildren already call you blessed.
My father went to work for Sperry, which after many many name changes and never changing desks it became L3… He loved work and worked hard… Everything my father ever did he was the best in… He could fix or build anything he set his mind to..He was loved by so many… I remember as a child all of my cousins would seek out my fathers approval for anything… new boyfriends or new girlfriends… anything… They loved my dad and my dad loved them…My dad could get them to do anything for him…especially practical jokes…. He loved practical jokes, as many who worked with him could attest…
One of the most memorable stories of my youth involved a beach.. a cousin… an uncle… and a bucket of sand. My dad convinced my cousin Marilyn during a family vacation to California to sneak up behind my uncle Gail with a bucket of sand… My uncle Gail always wore cowboy boots and jeans… and here we were at the beach and he was sitting down watching the kids play in the water… he didn’t suspect a thing although he should have known better. Marilyn who did anything Uncle Dave asked dutifully obliged my father and dumped this bucket over Uncle Gail’s head… while my dad videotaped it of course… Imagine the laughter as we watched a teenage girl in sandals outrun a cowboy in his boots on the sandy beach as he chased her until he couldn’t run any more…. He never did catch her…
My dad was an extremely competitive man… This competitiveness and determination is what allowed him to overcome his childhood and made him the success he was in life and work…He instilled in his boys hard work and determination through his example. I remember about 6 months after dads kidney transplant… he was swimming everyday… he loved to swim… I too was swimming each night and our daily discussions always ended up being about how far we swam.I would swim a mile and that night I would tell him… I swam a mile today dad.. the next day he would beat me and tell me “I went a mile and a quarter today!” Well of course I wasn’t going to lose to an old man who just had a kidney transplant so I would go beat him the next day…and of course he would have to outdo me…he would take my son Josh with him to swim and he would always tell him I have to beat your dad… this continued daily until he came down with cancer and no longer had the strength to swim… Yet even during his chemo he would still have to out drive me on the golf course
My dad always provided opportunities for teaching and helping his children.. Even in his death he has provided numerous opportunities to teach, learn, and grow. Last night after the viewing my son who is 7 was asking me about grandpa and death. In the quiet late night hours last night as he sat on my lap and with tears in his eyes he told me that he knew his grandpa was smiling down on him and that we would see him again..I had a marvelous opportunity to share again the plan of salvation, of life, and how death is simply the journey home to our loving heavenly father.. that we will be reunited and have the opportunities of eternal families which come through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and of the need for temples.My son was able to understand in greater detail Jobs question of “If a man die, shall he live again?” He knows the answer to this question is a resounding yes! and has strengthened his understanding of temple work and why his dad goes to the temple.
In my dads final years… he shared that as a result of his abuse as a child he had lived a lifetime wondering if God loved him… In his final hours he knew with certainty of Heavenly Fathers deep love for him..As he lovingly held the hand of his lifelong sweetheart, surrounded by family and feeling the outpouring of love, as his boys gently placed their hands on his head, with tears of love pouring from them as a final blessing of peace and love was pronounced upon his head tears of joy and understanding came to my father as he realized how loved and blessed of the Lord he had been in this life..His family surrounded him in love as he peacefully journeyed home to the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father to prepare the way for his family to join him in the eternities…It is my humble testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his plan of salvation. Death is not the end.. it is the journey home to the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father and those who went before… Goodbye for now dad… until we meet again.. in the name of Jesus Christ… amen