This is the eulogy I read at Dad’s funeral mass. I’ve been wanting to share it with you guys for awhile, but just wasn’t ready to reread it yet. It took everything out of me to read this that sunny day in April. I even tried to back out during the mass by giving my brother the “I CAN’T DO THIS” look. When my brother and I were preparing our separate eulogies, we both knew we wanted to tell the group the man we knew. They knew my Dad as a brother, a friend, an uncle. But no one really knew him as a Father. This was my attempt to let them see that side of him. It seems appropriate to share today.
Donnie and I were talking one weekend in the car on the way into town. We were discussing traits I may or may not have gotten from Dad. Things Iâ€™m proud to have inherited, like his love of geography and things that have caused me worlds of problems, like the insanely curly hair. I was thinking about how my parenting reflects the way Dad parented us and I said, â€œYou knowâ€¦Dad was an extremely selfless parent.â€
Iâ€™ve been a Mom now for 14 years. Many times in those 14 years, Iâ€™ve needed to take breaks. Sometimes I take the kids to a babysitter while we go to dinner, or see a movie, or even just run errands. I have a lot of friends who are also parents and theyâ€™ll agree with me in those breaks being a necessity. I donâ€™t know of anyone who has ever said, â€œA break? Nah, I don’t need one!â€
Except for Dad.
Dad enjoyed being a parent so much that parenting was his break from the rest of his life. Not only did he NEVER take a break from being our Dad, no matter how crazy we were acting, but he always claimed parenting us was EASY. He said raising us was the easiest thing he ever did. This proved one thing for sure: Dad had a different definition of â€œeasyâ€ in his head than I did.
Dad went above and beyond being the regular requirements of a parent. He coached soccer for both of our teams. This was especially difficult for me since I have absolutely no natural athletic skill whatsoever. He took me to gymnastics and both of us to piano lessons. He helped us with science fair projects (we always had the best ones, of course) and book reports. He took us to museums and to the library.
And thatâ€™s just the beginning.
As we got older he found ways to stay involved in our lives. He traveled to see us play sports all through high school and stayed up late many nights to wait for us to get home so he could hear how our school functions went. I remember one time, as a Senior in high school, he ended up driving a car full of my squealing friends from Camp John Knox to Knoxville and back one night so that we wouldnâ€™t have to miss a Y-Teen rally for our Senior trip. If youâ€™ve never been trapped in a car for an hour with more than five hyper-active teenage girls you many not realize how charitable of a gesture this was. Youâ€™ll just have to trust me. It is considered a war crime in some parts of the world.
The funny thing is? Dad loved it. He loved nothing more than just being a fly on the wall when C and I were around our friends. He often considered our friends and their parents his own peer group. He joked that when we graduated from high school he lost a lot of his social circle in the parents of our friends.
One time I volunteered Dad to chaperon a field trip for my biology class when I was a Senior. He was given a group of freshmen to be in charge of and realized immediately that it was more of a formality than anything. Those freshmen didnâ€™t need or want him to be in charge. That didn’t keep him from trying his best to at least memorize all of their names on the way to Chattanooga. Dad didn’t know how to do anything halfway.
He took me shopping for prom dresses in high school. He even managed to fake enthusiasm (in between yawns, of course) as I tried on dozens of outfits. Letâ€™s just say that raising a teenage daughter is a difficult task for anyone, but for a single Dad? There just arenâ€™t words, Iâ€™m sure. And he still rose to the challenge.
His selflessness raising us to adulthood knew no limits. But it didnâ€™t stop there. C and I both have leaned on his shoulder several times as adults. He continued to be our best cheerleader as he traveled out west to see C do his Iron Man and came to Nashville to watch me run my marathon. Even just in the last year or so he spent a week in Tucson helping C tile his home and spent a week in Alabama helping take care of Nikki when I was recovering from my c-section. Anytime we asked for him to help us, he did. Never once putting anything before us.
Essentially, he put his whole life on hold while he raised us, letting his own personal dreams and goals fall to the wayside. I think thatâ€™s the hardest part about losing him now, I donâ€™t feel like he ever got to live his own life. Maybe if he hadnâ€™t been so busy watching me try on hot-pink satin prom dresses, he could have hiked the Appalachian Trail or written a book.
But Iâ€™ll try not to focus on that and instead focus on the sacrifices he made for us and do my best to repay him by making similar sacrifices for my own family.
But donâ€™t count on me driving a car full of teenage girls anywhere. I know my limitations.
I know Iâ€™ll face many pains in my heart in the years to come as things unfold in my life that I know he would have been excited to hear about. I told him everything, from getting picked on in 2nd grade to learning how to rack servers a few months ago. I told him about new books I discovered and new challenges I faced as a Mom. He was always there.
When trying to decide what to say today, I just thought this was a side of Dad worth telling you all about tonight. The side you may not have been aware of – the amazing selfless father who was more than just a Dad to us. More often than not – was our best friend.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you more than I even knew was possible. The hole you’ve left in my life makes me hurt in ways I don’t even have words to express.