Here is the talk I gave at my dad’s funeral. I wanted to post it here.
My dad wasn’t like all the other dads. He is the one who stayed home. He is the one who got me breakfast, made sure I took my Flintstone vitamin every morning, and sent me off to school. He is the one who was there when I got home from school. He kept track of when my library books were due, when my appointments were, and if I remembered to take my lunch card to school. If I’m honest, I was less than grateful for these things as a child, but as an adult, I see that this was how he showed his love.
My classmates soon learned who my dad was, and I would frequently hear, “Taya, your dad is here!” in class. I would then turn toward the door to see Dad peeking in, holding something I forgot. He just couldn’t handle the thought of me not having something I needed, even if it was embarrassing for me to have him show up.
Dad was very organized. If I forgot when something was happening all I would have to do is look at Dad’s detailed calendar that laid out everything happening in the family, complete with a to do list for him. He was always working to make sure things were in order, whether it was in the house or outside in his meticulous yard. He took good care of his things.
He was often outside tinkering on the cars. He kept the cars in great condition. He tried really hard to get me to learn how to maintain cars. He would ask me to come hold his light for him, and explain what he was doing. I would roll my eyes and pretend to be paying attention. How I wish I had paid better attention now! He was trying to teach me some valuable skills that I could definitely use as an adult.
Dad’s health was not good as long as I can remember. This caused some stress in all of our lives. But, through it all, I never remember him losing his temper, shirking a parenting responsibility, or making me feel less loved. This week, as I have compiled many memories of my dad, I have noticed that people say similar things: He made me feel important; He cared; He was interested in my life; He was gentle and kind; He gave of himself. When I think of Dad, the words loving, gentle, kind, and patient come to mind. Those words are the words that embody who he is. What an amazing example of true Christlike love he is to all of us.
Dad wasn’t always good at saying the words, “I love you”. But he showed his love with his actions. He was always there. He was at my gymnastics meets, diving meets, piano recitals, etc. He was at my kids’ events. He never missed an important event, and he was always one of my biggest cheerleaders. He worried about us kids more than he ever did himself. Even when he didn’t feel good, he was there. He gave more than he physically could often, and he would pay for it later. I don’t remember him ever telling me no when I asked him for help. I’m pretty sure he was the same for everyone. Always giving. Not thinking of himself. When my family experienced the devastating loss of my husband and my children’s father, he was there by my side through it all. He helped me with funeral arrangements and paperwork. He came to my house and made house repairs, fixed a leaking sprinkler line, and was always there if I needed to talk. This fall, I asked him to come to my house to give his opinion on if I needed to replace a window. Instead of just telling me yes or no, he was soon in the window well investigating and cleaning things up.
Dad had a way with kids, and he loved to have fun. You would often find him playing with the kids instead of being with the adults. He loved the chance to break out his old toy trucks. My earliest memories of Dad are of him playing with me, tickling me, and swinging me around. He never claimed to be an artist, but he could draw a good tractor. My siblings and I would often ask him to draw a tractor for us during church. When one of his kids or grandkids got a fun new toy for Christmas or a birthday, he would be one of the first to help them set it up.
Dad also never claimed to be a great cook, but he made the best macaroni and cheese. He added just the right amount of extra cheese that made it delicious. My kids love his mac and cheese too. Other specialties were ramen noodles, frozen burritos, and fried eggs.
Dad was a tease. He loved to tickle, tease about crushes, and of course point out how his teenagers had “selective amnesia”. I asked my 6 kids, separately, for one of their best memories of Papa. They all talked about how Papa was funny and would joke with them. He would pretend he didn’t know where they were, which was quite hilarious to them. Four of my kids immediately talked about how Papa would joke with them about eating their toes. He had a thing for feet. He loved playing with my feet, and he always told me I have the cutest feet in the world. Thankfully, that’s not the best compliment he ever gave me.
He was a proud Dad and a proud Papa. He relished in everyone’s’ accomplishments and would often be found bragging about his kids and grandkids. The last text I have from him is one expressing pride in how his grandsons performed at their Rubik’s cube competition.
It is heart wrenching to think of not getting his sweet texts, talking on the phone with him, or going on lunch dates. It is heart wrenching to see my mom’s sorrow that the love of her life is no longer with her. My parents are examples of true love. They have been through so much together, and have withstood some hard things. It has been beautiful to see my mom’s tender love for him this past week, as she has had to make decisions she didn’t dream she would have to make for years. I know he is proud of her.
One thing I always wanted as a child was for my Daddy to be happy. When we were young, Doug and I planned to save up all of our money to buy him a motorcycle. Of course, we didn’t know how much a motorcycle cost or how long it would take us to save up. We only wanted to make him happy.
The times I saw him the happiest are the times I will never forget: going to Lagoon as a family, going bowling, playing with his grandkids, spending time supporting his kids and grandkids, riding ebikes, bantering with his good friend, Brent, spending time with his Love, Kaye. He would always ask me if I’m as happy as a clam. I’m not really sure how happy a clam is. I’m very sad to say goodbye to my daddy. But if a clam is happy, I hope you’re happy as a clam now, Dad. You deserve it.