A Big Man
February 15, 2013 will be the two year anniversary of my father’s passing. As the day approaches, I’m often taken back to his funeral. Someone once told me that a funeral isn’t for the one that has died; it’s for the ones that that person left behind. It’s a way for us to say goodbye and find some closure. I didn’t say goodbye to my Daddy. I certainly don’t have, need, or want closure. Life with Daddy was not a book that had an ending. I cannot just put the memories down and walk away. No, I don’t want closure. I want continuance. I want to continue in the love he taught me, and continue in remembering the wonderful qualities in this man I was blessed enough to have as a Daddy.
With that being said, I would like to share the eulogy I gave at his funeral. I hope you don’t find it dark or grim. I rejoice knowing that my Daddy is running around in Heaven being the goofball that he was here on Earth. For any other Daddy’s Girls that may read this, if you still have your Daddy, never waste an opportunity to tell him how much he’s loved. Most importantly, take the time to sit in his lap and relish in being his girl, no matter your age.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.”
When I was as young as I can remember, there was this big man that wrapped his arms around me and held me in his lap every chance he got. I will never ever forget the way his hands felt, rough and callused from working so hard for his family. An electrician and retired Air Force Staff Sergeant, he’d come home from working all day, having dirt and chalk from the chalk mine all over his clothes and you could just see by his appearance and the exhausted look on his face that when he worked, he really worked. This is the image of Daddy that I had as a child, and I will forever hold onto as long as I’m on this earth, and that is that Daddy was a BIG MAN in every way.
Now I have heard people call him short and little and watched him take the punches of being called a small man in stature. He was barely five foot, two inches tall. I never understood that as a child because when I looked at Daddy, he was a giant to me. He could do anything, and most of the time, did do anything if I smiled at him just the right way and batted my eyelashes and pouted my lip just a little bit. I know I was Daddy’s baby girl and he was my hero; a constant in my life that I know I could always turn to and lean on when I was hurt, sad, confused, happy, or just needed to sit on his knee, even as a grown woman and feel his rough, callused fingers intertwined between my own small fingers. I could forget the whole world when I was there in that place and feel safe.
Now, there was a time when Daddy had hair on his head. On Saturday mornings, as he sat at the kitchen table reading his newspaper, he’d give me his pocket comb and let me comb his hair while he read his paper and the radio would be playing his favorite country music. He’d let me braid it, or make it stick straight up with a little help from the Vitalis he was so prone to using. I’d even comb it down in front of his face, and I’d giggle as he tried to pretend he was still reading the paper through his hair. He’s give me his nail clippers and I’d give him a manicure and pedicure as he sipped his coffee and did crossword puzzles. He never complained, pushed me away or told me to just let him read his paper. He wasn’t that kind of Daddy. He was a Daddy that let me climb on his back, as he lay in the floor and just jump all over him and he never complained about it. There are a lot of those little memories I have that may not seem that significant to a whole lot of people, but they represent who Daddy was to me, whether it was him waking me up before the break of dawn to go fishing, just me and him, or watching him bowl a perfect game as I ran back and forth from the arcade begging him for quarters. All the memories I have of him add up to him just being what a Daddy should be.
He was hardworking, reliable, and downright honest. He never hesitated to tell someone how he felt and made no qualms about it. If he thought you were an idiot, he would tell you so. That just made him seem so much more of a man to me because he wasn’t afraid of anyone or any repercussions that his comments would entail. With that being said, Daddy came across a whole lot of idiots as I recall.
He was a big man with big words, big actions, and an even bigger heart.
Me being the little girl I was, I watched Daddy and how he treated Mama. I needed to see what it was that I should expect from a man when I grew up. For him to be this stubborn, rough, callused, spout-off-at-the-mouth kind of man, he was a complete pushover for Mama. Even in his 70’s, I have seen Mama sit on Daddy’s knee and just love Daddy, and Daddy would just love Mama. There were times where he’d bring her flowers for no reason, and made a big statement with gifts for her on every special occasion. Even the smallest gesture of bringing a Coke to her on his way home from work showed the thoughtfulness he had for her. He also never forgot to bring me a bag of my favorite M&M’s on Fridays when he got paid. I just remember having that idea embedded in my heart of how a man was supposed to love a woman. He worked hard for his family, but he loved Mama with extraordinary strength.
I’m not a little girl anymore but when I’d see Daddy, he was still a great big man to me. Even as he aged and seemed to shrink as I grew up, as he grew weary and tired, he was still a big man. Physically, maybe not so much anymore, but I knew that giant was in there inside this shell we walk around in. He lived a life of integrity, honesty and extraordinary love. He wasn’t perfect, after all he was a man, but when he was wrong he said he was wrong. This oddly enough wasn’t that often. Daddy was not a very complicated person. He was simple and if something was one thing, he saw it for what it was. He took the simple, easy to understand truth of Christ’s life on earth and death on the cross for what it was: payment for our sins for those that believe. He may not have been the ideal Christian man that the world thinks he should have been; he may not have always said what the world thinks is politically correct, or lived a life of complete perfection but I have peace in my heart that Daddy is with Jesus and his aching body will never fail him again. He will never grow weary, or tired again. He is that big man again, strong and indestructible.
I’d also like to believe that Daddy is in heaven right now with a full head of hair again. I long for the day when I can break out a pocket comb and play in his hair again and sit on his knee the same way Mama did and I have done myself so many times, even as a grown woman.
I didn’t get to say goodbye to Daddy. I know I wouldn’t have said goodbye anyway, even if we had known that on February 15th, 2011 Daddy would be called home to the Lord. I personally would’ve just said, “see you soon, Daddy”. As much as it hurts to know I can’t put my arms around him right now, or tell him all the things I respected him for, or even just go fishing with him one last time, or have breakfast with him at his favorite diner, I cherish the fact that Daddy finally has the weight of the world off his shoulders, and after years of taking care of us, living a life of hard knocks and tough times, that the Lord is taking care of him now.
16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
26 the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.