Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Eulogy

My words at my Dad's funeral...

You are here tonight because you knew and loved this man - or else you know someone who did. And if anyone had asked you at any time, “Is Carl a Christian?” The answer would have been an emphatic “Yes!” “Yes, he is.”

But what I’m going to share with you tonight, I’m sure that you didn’t know - because I didn’t know it, and I’ve known him since he married Mother when I was 4 years old.

He asked me once, while he was in the hospital, “Do you remember the first time you saw me?” While I don’t actually remember it, I’ve been told the story enough times to know it. He said, “Do you remember the way the front steps came out of Pop’s house - up to the porch? Well, you were standing on the top step and when I walked up in the yard you said, “I’ve got a sore finger!”

That doesn’t surprise me; at 3 ½ years old that was probably a pretty typical statement. And I was already, even then, enough of a “tom-boy” that “sore fingers” were a pretty usual occurrence!

So, I’ve known him a long time, but I have been amazed, in the past few weeks, to learn of the depth of his knowledge of theology. His theology could be summed up in three words - “I know Jesus.”

This is not the trite or cliché “do you know Jesus?” or “Have you met Jesus?” No, this man KNEW Jesus - personally in such a way that I can only barely touch with the tips of my fingers.

Since Mother died, it seems that Daddy talked non-stop. He told stories of his growing up, of the war, of his and Mother’s life - he just talked non-stop. Whether he was awake or asleep!

And it was no different when he was in the hospital.

It was well known that Daddy talked in his sleep, but there were 2 nights that were totally different.

The first one came when he’d been in the hospital for almost a week. He’d begun getting pretty agitated over being in the hospital so long with no sign of getting out anytime soon and he’d been upset and crying most of the night, then toward morning, he began saying, “I want to go home. I want to go hooooome…”

Then suddenly he began talking to Mother! Then he began talking to my Uncle Fred, then Mamaw and Papaw! And then he said, “Oh, it’s so pretty up here!”

When he began, I don’t know, becoming more “alert” I guess is how you’d describe it, and he said, Satan said he won’t let me go, but God told me He’d open the door when it was time…” and I did as Mary did - I pondered this in my heart…

A day or two later during one of the times when he was clearly awake and alert, he told me, “I’m sorry I gave you such a hard time the other morning, but I saw your Mother. She was sooo pretty. She had on a red dress, and with that white hair, oh, she was so pretty.” I began asking him about it, and there wasn’t much that he remembered, but he was sure about seeing Mother.

The next incident was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. He had been sitting on the side of the bed a good while and around 4:00 he wanted to lie down. Just as soon as he did, he began ‘talking” again. This time there was a jumble of words and phrases, but he talked non-stop.

His tone of voice and the way he was talking made it obvious that he was talking to little children. He talked about Jesus and God and he said, “Yeah, Jesus had a father and a mother and a little brother and a little sister. They all lived in a house, but Jesus lives in his Father’s house now - do you want to go see?” Then he said, “Oh, we can’t go right now, we’re “dirty” and we can’t go in there dirty, but Jesus will wash us and make us clean.

He talked to the little children about how much Jesus loved them and how He would take care of them - about how Jesus was a little boy himself and how He played just like they did. He said he (himself) was afraid to die, but that Jesus had told him not to be afraid.


He told them about the time they couldn’t find Jesus, and when they finally found Him, His momma and daddy asked Him, “Where’ve you been? And He said, ‘I’ve been in the Tabernacle!’” (I had to laugh - he was so emphatic about the word “Tabernacle!”)


Daddy told the children, “I want to go home, but I don’t know when.” He said, “Nobody knows when He is coming, but He’s coming - oh yeah, I know He is…” You know how Daddy was - just so full of love and care…

Paul’s words became so clear to me when he said to the Philippians, “I don’t know what to choose - for to live is Christ, and to die is gain…”


As Daddy got weaker, he was more and more confused about where he was and what was going on, but one of the last days in the hospital when he wasn’t so confused, he said to me, “Come here - I want you to be a woman, and stand tall, and don’t cry…”

I said, “Daddy, I’ll be a woman, and I’ll stand tall, (as best I can) but I will cry…” He smiled and said, “Yeaaaah, I guess you will…”

As I look out here, I see family, friends and neighbors, and I’d like to say, I am what I am, because Mother and Daddy were what they were. They supported me in everything I ever did. They uplifted me and gave me confidence and great encouragement. They believed in me. I thought all parents were like that…

I am so thankful God brought Daddy into mine and Mother’s lives. It is so true - “Any man can be a father, but it does indeed take someone special to be a Daddy.” And I thank God for my Daddy…

Paul told the Thessalonians that we who know Christ don’t grieve like others grieve; like those who don’t have, as Mother would say, “The Hope of Glory…” That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, because it does. And we will miss him. But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will see them again. Because Daddy knew Jesus, and he lived it everyday.

Father, thank You for allowing this man to be my Daddy. Amen.

Betty

2 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth Byrd said...

Betty,
The service was beautiful, I knew that it would be. The words you have chosen in this tribute to Granddad are SO TRUE. Even though I know that I didn't say this often enough, I felt like they knew, that anything that is good within me, was put in place by Mother and Granddad. If it weren't for them, I honestly do not know what I would be doing now, or where I would even be.

9:58 PM  
Blogger John said...

Hi Betty. This comment does not relate to this post, but I sent an e-mail to your listed address, and it bounced back as "address unknown."

I'd like to write the next Methodist Blogger Profile about you. If you're interested, please e-mail me at locustsandhoney2005 at yahoo dot com.

4:24 PM  

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