My favorite memories are of my Dad always giving gifts!
We lost my father this past January, so like many of you missing your Dad, I remember him as we celebrate the other Dads in our life today. To all the Dads out there….other than our Father in Heaven, none is perfect, but know you have such an important role in your families and have a lasting impact, a legacy that you are building for those who love you.
Here is a tribute to my Dad (shared at his funeral) and the legacy he left to us:
My Dad lived a very full life. The first thing my Mom said when I mentioned wanting to talk about Dad at the funeral was that Dad always said that “if he died tomorrow, he had done everything in his life he wanted to do. He didn’t have any regrets.”
To me this is rare, and this is a legacy, for us all. A legacy can be many things:
- the memories people have of you that stay in their hearts and minds long after we depart this world
- it is the part of you that lives on, and impacts many, through your children and grandchildren…..and their children and grandchildren.
- And it is also what you taught others through the life that you led.
My Dad liked to teach. He taught all of his grandkids how to swim; my sister’s and I how to work hard; and as recently as a couple of weeks ago, he taught many of you, his dear friends, how to play bridge.
When he died on Friday, the things that kept going through my mind though were the lessons he taught us all about living.
That is the part of his legacy that I want to share with you today.
Lesson #1 Love others well.
My father was very demonstrative and generous with his love. My Mom said that she couldn’t walk past his chair without him saying “Did you forget something?” and he would point to his cheek waiting for his kiss. He never entered a room, or exited, with out a personal greeting and a kiss. He made friends wherever he went. And he really tried to get to know people in a deep way. He would always tell me about a new person in his life and start off “My really good friend…..” And he would mean it.
Lesson #2 Marriage is the most important relationship you have.
Dad showed us with his more than 50 years of devotion to Mom what a marriage should look like. He always wanted her by his side wherever he went and he took care of her in both sickness and health. When Mom was sick a few years ago, he kept saying “She was my wife before she was your mother”. His marriage was his most important relationship. I pray this is a legacy we can all bring down to our children.
Lesson #3 Do your best in whatever you do.
Dad has three daughters that all have an incredible work ethic. He owned retail stores when we were growing up. We all worked for him at some point at a very young age. And I don’t mean a few menial tasks here and there. I remember when I was 12, him telling everyone at his main store that I was in charge of the receiving room. He would take me on buying trips and tell the manufacturers to ask me how many we were going to order! You can imagine the looks on their faces as they turned to this 6th grader to ask what our order would be.
Lesson #4 Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Dad was crazy, we all know that, but he put energy into trying to keep things fun and interesting. When we were kids he invented a club called the Buttercup society with one of his employees as the mascot. He would make up songs about monsters and how he was going to save us. And during hurricanes you may have called him and he would answer the phone with sirens blaring in the background, and him calling out “Hurricane Central”. He tried to add life and fun into everything.
Lesson #5 Be empathetic and Nurturing.
Unfortunately, my sisters and I didn’t learn this one quite as well. We learned the work ethic lesson better than the nurturing lessons.
You know when things are bad you don’t always want someone telling you it will get better, sometimes you just want someone to acknowledge how terrible it is! That was Daddy.
He had the nurturing touch. He could always put my crying babies to sleep by putting his Pinkie in their mouth, walking them back and forth across the room, and asking them who was mean to them today and how they didn’t need to worry anymore because Grandpa was here to save them. Soon they were sound asleep.
Lesson #6 Never Stop Learning
Dad had the sharpest mind. The incredible thing about his kind of intelligence was that it was as broad as it was deep. He knew about everything. And he wanted to try everything. From selling and designing women’s clothing to passing the series 6 and 7 to become a stockbroker – he did it. He always read voraciously – 3 or 4 books at a time. And when many of his contemporaries decided to skip this new generation of technology, Dad was learning about computers, online trading, blogging, iPhones and most recently the IPad. He was never afraid to learn something new and he remembered everything!
Lesson #7 Never Stay Angry
My sisters and I, quite honestly, probably got our tempers from my Dad….but, hopefully…..we also have his ability to get over it just as quickly and to forgive and forget. When God forgives us it is as if we never committed the sin. That was a characteristic my Dad lived by. He may have had a short fuse, but once it was over, it was over and you didn’t have to hear about it ever again.
Lesson #8 People Are More Important than Anything Else in The World
Dad cared about people more than anything. He was an extremely loyal friend and would do anything for the people in his life. Dad was as gregarious as you can be, but he never made shallow connections.
He always asked people about themselves and he truly wanted to know what was important to them. He never shied away from difficult times in other people’s lives. He was always there to spend time with them and help however he could.
Lesson #9 Be Generous
As long as I can remember Dad was doing things for others. I remember as many as almost 40 years ago Dad saying that this friend was going to come live with us for awhile. Sometimes he would let people live at his house, sometimes he would give people a job, sometimes he would just have them for a meal.
He was a joyful giver. It truly gave him pleasure to do for others.
If you knew Dad, you knew he was all of these things. And you also knew that he was far from perfect. We all are. But I think a saying that does fit him perfectly is that he “Lived Out Loud”. God created Daddy with his personality and gifts and talents, and he used him to the best of his ability. And through living out loud, more people were able to experience these lessons and this legacy.
Thank you Daddy for all you have taught us through the life you have led.