Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today My Father Was Laid to Rest

Today was full of memories. This is the tribute I was able to share with a little help from my friends Josh Berry, Jamie Hager, Keith Banning and Michael Mudlaff. They stood with me and made it possible for me to share what I did.

First off, on behalf of the family, I want to express our appreciation for all the outpouring of love and prayers extended to us.
Today is not the first time our family has felt the sting and pain of losing my dad. In the fall of 1989 I was away in Maryville, MO during my first semester in college when news of my father’s serious motorcycle accident reached me. For a couple minutes as I listened to the news it wasn’t clear whether or not my father was alive or dead. I vividly recall having to ask “is he still alive?”
Holidays and birthday celebrations took on a whole new meaning to our family in the years that followed this pivotal moment.
I could stand here for several days just highlighting the life of my dad; however, today I hope to give you just a peak behind the curtain of his life. 
My father’s roots began in the heartland of America as a boy on a family century farm just west of Fairfield, Iowa. There he learned how to work hard and develop the work ethic he carried all the days of his life. Before graduating from high school his life was full of adventure as his parents moved him back and forth from Iowa to California for several years growing up.
Immediately following his high school graduation my dad started working for Fairfield Engineering & Manufacturing where his mom worked at the time. This is where he learned to draft, design, and illustrate products to sell and service. His boss said in a reference letter that dad could “be depended upon to stay on the job until it is completed.”
My dad took a vocational evaluation during this time and it said that dad was resourceful, innovative and loved solving challenging problems. He enjoys situations requiring quick thought and adaptability. He likes having responsibility and directing the work of others. But it is the showing and training that interests him more than the detail of paperwork. This evaluation proved to reflect my dad for the rest of his life.
The evidence of my dad’s vocational skills can be seen all around the mid-west but mostly in the Des Moines area. He built apartments, hotels, homes, restaurants, offices, warehouses and even remodeled a few historical landmarks. He loved the challenges and rewards of seeing a bare piece of ground take the shape of something new that still stands today.
My dad enjoyed being an early adopter of technology. If we had known this fact years ago I could have shown you “the history of mobile phone” with all the telephones he used. From the hard-wired phone in his car, the mobile “brick” with that long antenna, the “flip-phone” to the many different models of “smart phones” we use today. I don’t know who introduced the Bluetooth headset to my dad but there were many times our family wished he didn’t discover the usefulness of that particular kind of technology. He wore that thing all the time!
As much as my dad loved building and using things, he loved people even more. He was constantly meeting with people, talking to them on the phone, and writing all kinds of notes to remind him of any need to follow-up on something. I’m sure there are some who are secretly happy my father will no longer be “following up” to see if that particular “thing” got taken care of.
I can recall many, many, many occasions where my dad would sound like a broken record if I neglected, or forgot, to complete a task I said I would do. If you were ever the recipient of this kind of attention then you know what I’m talking about. I do hope you learned the key to handling this kind of attention from my dad… it was fairly simple… just “DO IT NOW!” The sooner you told my dad the job was done the quicker he would leave you alone… and then stick another task in your lap!
I learned a lot from my dad. He will always remain my hero and my biggest role model in life.
My dad loved working hard and serving the Lord.
The reason behind everything he did in life could be boiled down to love… he loved the Lord. He loved his sisters, Becky and Martha. He loved his mom, Audrey, and his dad, Joe. He loved his grandkids, Ean, Evan, Emma and even the one to come in September. He loved my wife, Jayne. He loved my sister’s husband, Jay. And He loved his kids: me, Jennifer, James and Joann. However, most of all, he loved mom.
Dad loved our mom more than anything else in the world except for Jesus. He loved spending time with her. She was never far from his thoughts. It took a near death experience for my dad to start verbalizing his love for us kids but he always had a “I love you” and a kiss for mom whenever he left the house. There was never a doubt who was most important to our dad in this world…. Mom, that was you.
God could have easily taken my dad home to be with him in heaven over 25 years ago. I am so grateful for all the extra years I was blessed to spend with him.
Inside the bulletin today you’ll see the lyrics to the song “No Regrets”. I couldn’t find any recordings of him actually singing this song; however, it is a song I heard him sing many times and it rings strongly in my ears today. It was the first song he sang in this room back when Federated moved into this building. He sang it, he lived it, and I can hear him even now telling me he has “No Regrets”.
I would have cherished being able to spend more time with my dad but God has called him home. 
I want to end with an illustration Pastor Roger Poupart shares during times like this. He would share it now if he could much better than me; however, I will give it my best.
"Today we are standing on a shore. A large sailing ship carrying dad is about to pull out. We are standing on shore where we must say goodbye with tears and sadness. A bell sounds. The ship begins to move away from the shore.
"We stand silently for a very long time and watch as the ship goes further and further away until, finally, the mast is just a vertical pencil line on the distant horizon. Then it too goes down, until we can no longer see it. And we sigh, ‘Oh, he’s gone.’
"But gone from where? Gone from our sight. That’s all.
"For at the very moment we sigh, ‘Oh, he’s gone,’ another cry on another shore is jumping up and down, laughing and yelling and pointing excitedly out to sea saying, ‘Look! He’s coming. Look, the ship with Terry is coming home!”
I know without a doubt my dad is exactly where he wants to be today. I know that when my time comes to say good-bye to this world he will waiting upon that shore crying out for me.
I love you dad. I’m going to miss you a lot. 

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