Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saying Goodbye...

This is what I shared today at my dad's memorial service...

Hi, I am Janet, Jay and Louise’s daughter. I met my dad two weeks after I was born when he and my Mom rescued me from an orphanage and adopted me. Dad used to say that I was already talking the first time he saw me. I have a reputation for being chatty, yet I don’t remember him ever telling me to hush. He was a disciplinarian, but he didn’t break my spirit. We were together quite a bit when I was young because he taught at my elementary school. We walked to and from school every day. He rescued me from teasing boys on the playground, and even jumped rope a time or two with us. He was game to try anything and did whatever I needed, if not always what I wanted, which I now realize is good parenting.

As I prepared to speak today I realized that I have lived away from my parents for 25 years. Many of you have been sharing your lives with him during that time and know him very well, as teacher, musician, volunteer, historian, Studebaker enthusiast, shoebox stuffer and friend. So what can I say about him that you don’t already know? Very little I imagine, so today I will tell you what I have grown to love and respect about my dad, from a grown daughter’s perspective.

My dad was the most wonderful “regular” guy. And by that I mean he was consistent, dependable, routine…. faithful. My cousins and I were remembering my dads routine in the morning… his bedroom door opening, the hall closet squeak as he took his sweatshirt off the hanger (of course it was hanging up), the walk down the hall to the cuckoo clock, the pulling of the chains to wind the clock, feeding the birds, shining his shoes, eating his breakfast, packing the same lunch every day, an apple, 10 peanuts, jello and the very exciting varietal nut of the moment. ( no wonder he was slender), walking to school or the the sound of the organ on a Sunday morning. My brother Jeff said this week, “you could set your watch by him.” He was a man of routine. When I was younger I didn’t understand the value of this, but today, I have grown to respect and treasure the comfort of this faithfulness. You never had to wonder about my Dad. It was understood that he was committed to his Lord and Savior, to his family, and he quite naturally took responsibility to care for his home and family, his church and his community. I had no idea this wasn’t entirely normal.

My dad was a real man. Not in the conventional athlete, pick up driving, hunting and fishing, grunting and growling definition of that word, but in the deeper, spiritual sense of the word. He was a provider, a faithful – lover of one woman for life- husband, a dependable and committed father, he was honest, excellent, devoted to God. He was who God designed him to be. Some of us don’t ever fully embrace God’s plan or design for us, but my Dad did. He was an artist, a teacher, a musician, a servant, a reader, quiet, but quite charming. I remember my dad with a twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes. One thing I have come to know and appreciate about him as I became an adult was that he was comfortable with strong women; his mother, my mother, me. This marked me for life and though he and I were very different he gave me freedom to grow in to who God designed me to be.

As I have reflected on his life the past few days
I am challenged by his commitment to continuing to develop his gifts in order to serve. He practiced the piano and organ routinely even after playing half a century.

I am challenged by his humility. He was smart, successful, talented, respected but had no air of superiority about him.

I am challenged by his commitment to living his faith at home. He routinely finished dinner with a devotion and church was not just someplace he went on Sunday. He was fully committed to worshiping God with his life and talents and to serving Him.

I am challenged by his commitment to communication. When I was a child he would type the letter of the week. As family moved around or away he just added another piece of carbon paper and kept up typing.
He and my mother never owned a dishwasher, not because he couldn’t afford it but because it was there way of connecting and talking through their day. 56 years, 365 days a year they washed dishes together.
If you were in my father’s classroom you received one of these. My dad made the same valentine every year for his students. When I went to college he began to make me one and send it to me, this has continued every year since then. A few years ago I began saving them. I treasure them today as an example of his faithfulness and caring. I love this one from 2008, i can tell that his health was failing by the shakiness of his hand in the writing and cutting

When my dad’s cancer began to get the best of him he told me two things repeatedly.
First he would quote Philippians 4:6-7
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I know this was his prayer for us, that we would have a sense of peace today.

And then he would ask me to join he and Mom praying for quality of life, rather than quantity. I told him I didn’t think it would hurt to pray for quality and a little bit more quantity. I know that God used you to answer their prayers by being part of that quality of life, by visiting, sharing your music, bringing communion to the house, keeping he and Mom company and caring for them. I want to personally thank you not only for coming today but also for enjoying and loving my Dad.


Anonymous said...

So beautifully done friend! Have been praying for you and your family all day... you've done an amazing job of putting words to the "stuff" of life that's hard to capture adequately. I can see the imprint he is on your life and have no doubt his legacy will continue in you and your family.

Jos said...

Janet, that is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to your dad. I'm sure he's very proud of you right now!

Jenni Clayville said...


love you!

Melinda said...

Beautiful, vivid, living, loving and respectful. It was as if we had just been given the privilege of meeting him and spending a bit of time together. Thank you for sharing it.
Christina and Melinda

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing this Janet

Stephanie said...

how wonderful to have loved, and been loved, by such a man! thinking about you!


Laura said...

That was wonder you turned out so good! :) Thanks for sharing your heart and journey with us. Love you...

Jan said...

Hi Janet. We don't know one another - I found your post through Tyler's blog. I am sorry to hear of your Dad's passing but I rejoice with you that He is now with our Savior. I know your family grieves, but with a great hope. Your description of your father and your tribute to him is so beautiful and a great reminder that we so often overlook the wonder of our own lives and family. May God give you great peace and comfort.