** 18 years ago at my grandfathers funeral my dad stood up and tried to say some nice words about his dad. Unfortunately very little if anything came out. It was the first time in my life where I saw my dad so over come by something out of his control. The only other time I saw this from him happened last week. Made a promise 18 years ago that when it was my dads turn to have some nice words said about him that I would try. I wrote the speech below at 4:30 am the night of my dads passing and read it at my dad’s funeral luncheon.**
If you’ve ever called my parents house and dad picked up the phone and you asked him how he was doing his voice would perk up and he would tell you he was doing simply excellent. After listening to this reply for 30 years I cannot think of a phrase that better describes my dad than simply excellent.
He was simply excellent at everything he did. Husband, father, big brother, friend, boss, employee, and whatever else he did.
People looked up to him. Not just because he was 6 foot 3 but because dad never let anyone down. I can’t remember one time in my life – not once – not ever – where he let me, Sean, mom, his brothers and sisters, or friends down. It wasn’t if dad could be there to help it was what time was he supposed to show up. He has 20+ years of perfect attendance coffee mugs from Ford at the house to back this up.
To be fair he wasn’t simply excellent at everything he did. Golf. Nope. He’s still the only person I know who has a hole in one but did not see it go in. Then there was his Lions who are not excellent at anything. Wouldn’t be fair to get on him about that one since many of us suffer with that choice to.
Suffer. It’s something we all will go through eventually but none of us have a say when its our time to suffer. I feel dad did everything in his power to keep his suffering to himself to protect us from it. That’s how dad was. Whatever he could do to protect us – he would. To say now I wish you would have let us know more about your suffering wouldn’t be right since you and mom made so many sacrifices to give Sean and I the life we have. The life you had.
With the suffering comes loses. First to go was your hearing. I’m still not sold on this one. How many years was it before you got your hearing aids? Oh – you have the volume turned down on them. I swear you enjoyed mom yelling at you.
Even after dad remembered to “put his ears in” he really didn’t need to respond to you with words anyways. His presence alone did the speaking. I’ve had entire conversations with him the last couple of years where all he did was wink, raise his brow, scratch his cheek, or smile. I didn’t know what he was really doing was saving his lungs for important words like the last ones we had – I love you.
The endings are never good and all we can do is reflect. A part of me is happy when you told me 18 months ago about your disease as it let me appreciate every moment we’ve had in that time period. It also gave me time to appreciate your life and what you meant to me, Sean, mom, your brothers and sisters, and friends.
It kind of gave me a chance to look up to you as if I was a kid again. The same way Max is starting to look at me. You were just – my dad – again.
You’ve been pretty much a perfect human being in my eyes. Of course you would reply that nothing is perfect. You’re right. If only we could be like you. Simply Excellent.