Looking over the sea of faces I am overwhelmed by the love and support for my father and our family. Everyone here has in some way had a relationship with our Dad. It is impossible to understand the ways in which he touched your lives. I am going to share with you how he touched mine and what he gave me – a strong foundation, a deep root system and great values.
I loved my Dad. There were no disappointments in my relationship with him despite both our humanity. Neither of us were perfect but there was magic in how we were together and how we left one another.. with no regrets and a deep understanding of the connection we had with one another throughout our lives.
I admired him for his strength. There was a pivotal moment in my life where I was navigating some hard choices – that moment where two roads converge and you have to choose one that will change your life forever. At that moment he sat with me, listened, comforted me, put his arm around me and told me I would be ok, and I knew what to do. There was no judgment – just a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. That moment instilled in me a confidence, independence and self reliance that has served me well throughout my life. That strength never left him. Throughout the last few difficult weeks, he would grab your hand and squeeze with a strength that marveled the doctors and nurses who cared for him.
I respected his honest simplicity and even more so in hindsight. He was never able to tell me his favorite color as though it was unnecessary and silly. His favorite dinner is well documented as hamburger, mashed potatoes, and peas. He was happiest outdoors – gardening, golfing. Most of my life, for Father’s Day, we sent him pints of ice cream because it always made him smile. One of his favorite sayings was “Life is short – eat dessert first” and in the last weeks of his life he ate every sweet put in front of him – a whole box of Dunkin munchkins is especially memorable.
￼He was the Common Man’s Common Man – imbued with a deep humility where he treated everyone democratically despite his rather strict Republican views on the world. One always knew where they stood with Dad.
He could write. I loved his letters and think I am fortunate to come from parents that both loved books and words. He would share his work with me and today I find much of what I do depends on that solid foundation.
He could grow anything. One of my favorite recollections is him throwing some amaryllis bulbs in a pot one fall while he was cleaning the basement as he put the garden to sleep and pulling that same pot out in the Spring as he was beginning to plant only to find that he had grown a beautiful completely white Amaryllis. He brought it upstairs to show us just as photosynthesis began right in front of our eyes.
There are a million memories –
When he and Mom danced.
The little notes he left for Mom every morning by the coffee pot in the kitchen signed with the simple mark of infinity.
How good he smelled when he “dusted off” – his words for taking a shower.
That he loved pillows with no filling.
The other day I was drying my hair when suddenly the hair dryer exploded with a pop. I grunted – something so my Dad – and I stopped for a moment just to think of how I got that from him.
Our big adventure – just the two of us – to Alaska. It was the only one of the 50 states he hadn’t visited and was billed as a celebratory trip for his 80th birthday but the gift was really mine. A chance to spend two unfettered weeks just being his daughter. The memories will last me the rest of my life.
I appreciate the chance to have shared with you my memories of my Dad.
It has been said that 100 years after our death no one really knows we lived – the person we were, the things we did. It is the impact that we make on others that lives on through the lives we touch. By being here today I know that my Dad had an impact on your life and he will live on through each of you, just as he does through the people he touched every day – my Mother, Brother, Deb, Joe and Alex and Chuck. That brings me great comfort.
I long to be back again for a Thursday evening of watching Mash in that small “TV room” in the house in Kennett. Jeff and me on the couch, Mom in the rocker, our dog Scherer – named for my Dad, laying on the floor next to Dad’s lounger where he reclined. The smell of popcorn and apples – laughing.
Just for a minute.