Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eulogy for my father

When I was a little girl, I had a favorite book called “My Daddy can fix anything.” You can guess why it was my favorite – because I had a Daddy who really could fix anything. Yesterday I fielded a call from someone looking for my dad, and my mother’s comment when I told her who had called was “Yeah, they call Dad whenever they have something they can’t fix themselves.”

He started learning this ability to fix things during his youth, working with his stepfather in construction -- where they tended to take a job first and figure out how to build it the night before they started.

He enlisted in the Army, then switched to the Air Force. His career in the Air Force included being “on the front line of the cold war” by running radar evaluation squadrons as far away as Labrador and being the officer in charge of a missile site. He graduated from the Air Force’s Office Candidate School in 1963. He was a member of the Air Force and National Rifle teams, and a gunsmith.

While his intelligence was what enabled him to fix anything, I personally think it was his integrity and stubbornness that made him successful. To start and run a business for 27 years – over multiple economic “slow downs”, flirtations with bankruptcy, and changing markets – took an incredible amount of stubbornness.

It’s this integrity (and stubbornness!) that meant he had a marriage of 36 years; even though *his* parents were divorced and remarried multiple times. It began with a first date in a junkyard in the rain – Mom’s roommates said if she saw him again it had to be true love – but ended as husband and wife, business partners, parents, and grandparents who enjoyed working, dancing, reading, and dining, all done together.

My dad was not given to casual displays of affection – although hugs and kisses were available when requested – but to more practical displays of affection like driving to rescue me after my 20 year old Mercedes starting dropping pieces of itself on the Houston streets.

He used his intelligence & integrity to raise two daughters, giving them opportunities he never had, letting them (finally!) discover he didn’t know everything, and letting them go – as far away as Africa and Turkey – to become independent adults.

In the end, no one, including my Dad, could fix his cancer that grew so fast and put him in so much pain. [He was stubborn and persistent until the end, holding on until we all told him it was all right for him to go.]

(More or less the eulogy I gave Thursday night at my Dad's funeral.)

Find my sister's here (minus her creative storytelling).

1 comment:

Iestyn Lewis said...

That's a really touching eulogy. I'm sorry for your loss, I hope you were able to share plenty of memories over the past week.