He Was My Father

I said farewell to my father today. I kept looking for him to be sitting next to us, but he wasn’t there. My mother asked me to write a eulogy for him, and these are the words I said.

 

Photo by Steve Kramer

Photo by Steve Kramer

He was my father.

 

He shared his love of reading with me. He said that, as a child, he always loved to read, and he carried that with him throughout his life. I follow in his footsteps.

 

He was the person I went to when I doubted my own words; we’d argue over the use of commas.

 

He was the only one who voluntarily read my dissertation. I’m not sure what he thought, except he told me he needed a dictionary in parts.

 

He was the person I’d call when I applied for jobs and was unsure what to say. He made me believe that anything was possible.

 

He came to my rescue when I needed help with Sarah, whose toddler days sometimes meant I couldn’t always get my work done. Nathan had to be away for some reason, and I had a big interview to prepare for, so he came and stayed for a couple of weeks, to play with his granddaughter and even take her to the beach for the first time.

 

He printed out images of Snoopy on a dot matrix printer and handed out punch cards with messages on them as he wowed my elementary school classmates with a room full of computer technology.

 

He charmed my friends whenever they met him.

 

He told awful jokes that I’m now passing down to Sarah.

 

He greeted every spring with this memorable poem, “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is, the birds is on the wing, no, the wings is on the birds.”

 

He mastered the art of telling the Passover story as quickly as possible so we could get to the food, and of giving me hints (without anyone knowing) which allowed me to find the Afikomen before the big kids.

 

His snore scared away the bears, but his joy on one particular canoe trip made the adventure even greater.

 

He made connections with people in Japan faster than most Americans who lived there.

 

He led the way on every journey we took. He loved to walk and we had to scramble to keep up.

 

He was my personal GPS system, even though I believe he and I have a completely different understanding of the term “short cut.”

 

He jumped over my wedding dress when my parents walked me down the aisle.

 

He always said that, when he was young he “walked to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways.”

 

His favorite childhood story involved a skunk, a dog, tomato juice, and the missing seat in his pants.

 

He was the silliest looking samurai ever.

 

I learned early on never to pull his finger, and that beans were a musical fruit.

 

He played endless games with his only grandchild, who has these words to say:

 

I MISS YOU PAPA

I loved the way you laughed.

I loved the way you played games with me.

I loved that you watched me when I was a baby.

I wish I was brave enough to go to your funeral.

I miss you SO much Papa and I love you.

Rest in Peace! Sarah

 

 

He was taken far too soon, by a disease that deprived us of his wit, wisdom and his voice. Two years ago, Nathan, Sarah, and I tried to capture his memories using techniques from StoryCorps. From that interview I learned how much he loved my mother, how much he had hoped to spend his retirement traveling with her, and these words from his mouth

“I had a great life.”

 

I will miss you forever, Dad.

 

 

Baruch Dayan Ha’emet.

 

 

 

 

 

39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Auntie Barb
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 15:58:13

    Just beautiful, Lisa. I know it takes a lot to speak at your father’s funeral. You did his love of words (and yours) credit. It makes me wish that my dad and yours could have spent time together – I suspect that the pair of them would have got along like a house on fire, though the rest of us would have been groaning! Aroha nui. Barb

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Dec 21, 2012 @ 16:00:27

      I’m sure, from the time I spent with your Dad, that they would have been brilliant together. Why didn’t we ever think about fixing our Dads up on a Dad date way back when?

      Reply

  2. Stuart Nager
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 16:00:33

    That was just lovely. Keep those memories close by at all times: wish I had known him personally but I feel I knew a great man through your words. Again, my condolences.

    Reply

  3. speccy
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 16:09:58

    I’m sorry for your loss, Lisa. You did a great job, I’m sure- and not just today

    Reply

  4. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 16:14:18

    I’m so sorry! This was hard for me to read as I lost my own father a little over two years ago.

    Reply

  5. Julie Frayn
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 16:20:45

    Sorry for the passing of your father. What a lovely tribute. Your daughter’s words made me cry, especially the part about being brave enough to go to the funeral. My own dad passed eighteen years ago, but every reminder makes it feel fresh. I hope that never changes. Don’t ever want to not be touched by his memory.

    Reply

  6. Julie Goucher
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 17:22:35

    I am really sorry for your loss. Your reading is beautiful, from the heart & I know it would have been hard to write & deliver to everyone.

    Reply

  7. Li @ FlashFiction
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 18:19:21

    That made me tear up – your great love and respect for him shines through in every word. “I had a great life” – I’m so glad that he was able to express that.

    Reply

  8. Tori Nelson
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 18:46:08

    Oh, Lisa. I’m crying for you. What great words you gave your dad.

    Reply

  9. Trackback: Saying goodbye | The odd ramblings of a mind that does not quite fit
  10. Seyi sandra
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 20:10:49

    I’m so sorry about your loss, but you beautifully expressed your love for him in your words, that way, his memories will stay evergreen. Take care!

    Reply

  11. Andra Watkins
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 20:43:11

    Lisa, thank you for sharing these words about your dad. I feel like I knew him a little, but I wish I could’ve known him well.

    xoxoxo to you, Nathan and Sarah.

    Reply

  12. nathan010
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 22:21:05

    A link to see some of these images Lisa has re crafted:
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.789671555366.2070307.65502396&type=1

    Reply

  13. lisaspiral
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 23:56:28

    What a sweet remembrance. Holding you in my prayers.

    Reply

  14. Marion Driessen
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 07:10:08

    Treasure those beautiful memories of your father, Lisa. Sending over strength and a big hug,
    ~ Marion

    Reply

  15. Kathryn McCullough
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 07:37:31

    Dear, dear Lisa, this has got to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Precious, precious memories. I understand a bit about what it’s like to lose a daddy–it aches. And the ache never quite goes away–but along with that ache comes an amazing gift, as well! Blessings and love to you and your family, my friend.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

  16. nrhatch
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 09:05:59

    Having just written my dad’s obituary in June, this hit close to home. It’s sad saying good-bye to our dads.

    Reply

  17. Trackback: Le Beard | Ode to Imagination
  18. Jackie Cangro
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 09:15:40

    What a lovely and moving tribute to your father, Julia. Your words have captured him so well – I feel like I got to know him a bit. He sounds like he was a terrific man. You’re fortunate that you had him in your life for so many years. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

    Reply

  19. eof737
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 17:23:58

    A touching and poignant tribute… my condolences again.

    Reply

  20. Kathy
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 13:02:57

    You’ve shared about your precious dad in a way that takes the ordinariness of a precious person and makes him shine even more. He must be smiling down at you with gentle love and appreciation.

    Reply

  21. Trackback: Carrying Paradise Inside « Woman Wielding Words

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