As the anniversary of my father's passing, February 26, 2005, draws nearer, I draw closer to him. This was my eulogy on the First Day of Spring, March 20, 2005.
First of all, let me say that Dad would never have attended an event like this except in that urn.
Dad never rested on formality in his life, or on convention, trends of fashion or any other normal, polite way of being that most people accept as "the right thing to do."
Dad marched to the tune of his own drummer - - always.
Dad was about living. He was a collector of things; a packrat with the intention of saving stuff that someone, someday, might want.
He was also a collector of people - - a wildly diverse group that he held close in his life. His stories about them kept them alive for him and the rest of us long after they'd passed.
Dad lived to tell a story, a joke, or some how make people laugh. He was always keenly aware of any opportunity to be the center of attention or to make a heavy moment lighter.
I'll tell a Dad-esque joke: A skeleton walks into a bar. The bartender says "What'll you have?" The skeleton says, "A beer and a mop."
All of us kids inherited the ability to find humor even in the darkest moment, however seemingly irreverent. We owe this skill, of sorts, to Dad.
I'll tell you a story from the hospital bedside and I pray I get through it with tears of laughter:
We were all sitting quietly and Dad was unconscious but listening as the hospice nurse proved to us. As some of you know, Dad would often say "What?" if you said something directly to him, but he could distinctly hear a whisper to Mom in the other room that you didn't want him to hear.
So Mom asked Kerry if she'd thought to bring the stuffed gargoyle toy to put on Dad's bed. Kerry said no, that Dad didn't like it and kept turning it around last time. Kerry then said that she'd thought to bring the other stuffed creature - - a vulture - - but thought it might be inappropriate.
This took one long second to reach the rest of us and we all began to laugh really hard, knowing how terribly funny Dad would have found that, too.
This is a day and a time to remember the best, tell your funny and perhaps irreverent story and laugh with Dad, who is definitely listening. Please share with us today all of the happy, crazy, wonderful reasons we all loved him.