February 5th, 2014 (Dad’s Funeral)
This is the eulogy I presented to the congregation on the day of my father’s funeral. I do not have a good reason for allowing the world to see this, but I also do not have a bad reason either. So here goes…
As I am sure most of you know me… I am DJ… Dudley’s oldest son. Please forgive me as I read this, I do not want to forget any of these words.
First off… thank you very much for coming today… thank you to my mother and brother for having the faith in me to delivery Dad’s eulogy. And the support of my wife to listen to my insecurities as I put words to paper.
I didn’t learn of this story until recently (and many of you who know David and I will relate), but when Dad was asked to compare David and I… He would respond… If David and DJ were both asked to jump off of a mountain… David would sit and think, draw up the plans, rethink the plan, build his wings and then cautiously slide off the mountain… Dad would then say (probably with a shake of his head) DJ would immediately run and jump off the mountain and figure out how to build his wings on the way down. I am sure this caused my father many sleepless nights in 42 years. The ironic part of this story… I have had a signature on the bottom of my personal email for many years, a quote from Ray Bradbury… saying,
“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.”
So… following this theory… of jumping before thinking…
I volunteered to deliver Dad’s eulogy today — I am not sure exactly what I was thinking, but here I am.
Just over one month ago… I talked to my parents on Christmas Eve… and I learned my father was diagnosed with a mass on his kidney. I immediately had this feeling… my father wasn’t going to be with us much longer. I am not sure why, it was just a feeling. For the next month, from time to time… (quite often actually)… I would think of things about my father… and they all seemed like things that should be mentioned during a eulogy… so this is why I volunteered.
Six days ago… on January 31 at 5:30 PM, my father passed.
After his passing… I sat in my office attempting to write this eulogy. Starting multiple times and stopping just as many. I would start again, trying to find the words to describe how it feels to be here without him. I am still trying to figure this out. I had a father for 42 years and have only not had a father for six days, so anything I say today must be understood as the words of someone only six days old.
He left behind… a wife… two sons… two daughter-in-laws (that he loved to tease)… and five grandchildren (that he loved to tease even more)
I did not expect that my father would not live to see any of his 5 grandchildren graduate from high school.
I did not expect that my father would not live to see them get married.
And I certainly did not expect that he would not live to see the age of 70.
Up until this past Thursday when he passed, I did not expect anything less than many more good years to share with him.
But the thing I expected least of all was the deep peace of mind and spirit that I have knowing he is now safe and free from pain and suffering.
My father’s love for my mother was a full, romantic and sentimental love, rich with devotion that is rare and a love I feel honored to have witnessed in my lifetime.
In those 46 years of marriage, they shared their love for one another, their love for their children and grandchildren, and their love of their friends.
With David and I, he was loving, gentle and always filled with pride and joy with each accomplishment and milestone and made sure he was involved in our activities and interests. As kids, we could always count on seeing his face at every event.
During our failures and struggles, of which there were many, he was SLOW with words of advice, but FAST with encouragement and support. Dad was all about you figuring ‘things’ out. I remember talking to my father many times… asking for advice… (I never received the advice… at least not from his lips)… he would let me talk… and talk… and at the end, he would say, “Well… I think you know what you need to do… now go and do it!”. It was hard to swallow his tactic, but it always seemed to work.
Dad always encouraged and taught us to pick our battles. When someone was trying to pull ‘one over on him’… he would say, “if you can live with it… I can live without it”
He had a couple other less frequently used sayings…
— it’s going to get better… it might get worse… or it might just stay the same
— and when he was really mad… and things weren’t going so well… he would really let it fly… and say, ‘Ahh Man!’
but his favorite of all time… (please repeat it with me) — “it’s too far from your heart to kill you”
So… as I put words to paper for today… I started to take a moment and capture a few stories about Dad… and then as I tried to capture them… the phone would ring. I would answer… of course is was someone wanting to talk to me about dad… the tears would roll for both of us… and then the tears would turn to laughter and the stories I was trying to capture would start to be told (everyone had a least one). I quickly realized there were too many stories for the short time I have. So I decided to try and sum up all of the stories into just one idea.
If there was one word to describe my Father during his lifetime, it would be the word: Friend. I can see many people he considered friends in front of me right now. He never met a stranger… he never treated anyone as if he hadn’t known them forever and he would have given the shirt off his back to anyone in need (and never expect it back). Everyone he met was a friend.
In working through Dad’s eulogy for today, and speaking with lots of you, it is easy to see that Dad was well-liked and well-regarded in his life.
I am proud of my Dad.
I am proud of the way he loved my mother.
I am proud of the house that he built.
I am proud of the way he loved and cared for David and I… and our wives.
I am proud of the way he loved his grandchildren.
I am proud of the number of people I see in front of me… that called him friend and brother.
I am proud of the man that he was… it will be a hard standard to achieve.
I am proud of the way, by daily example, he taught me the lesson of unconditional love and the importance of family.
This is his legacy. He is, and will be, greatly missed by all.
I have one last example of ‘what’ my father was… He was a very proud and honorable man… and for him to make this comment was a great honor to me.
A couple years ago… I called my father on father’s day… I of course wished him a ‘Happy Father’s Day’… His only response without hesitation… in his normal calm tone… was ‘It is my honor’… I am not sure what I had done to deserve the honor… but it was an honor to be told such a thing.
He felt it was an honor to be our Dad, an honor to be a husband, and an honor to be a friend. Please know he loved all of you greatly.
Thank you very much for coming today. I will leave you with one final thought… directly from dad…
Dad told Mom for years… when I go… I will never be too far. He would say, “Go outside, look into the sky at the clouds… I will be the one making loops around them.”
Rest in peace, Dad — I love you.