We lost my dad last week. It was sudden, but not so sudden I didn’t get to say goodbye. There is so much I could say about how special he was, but is this is what I said at his service yesterday. It’s a collaboration of things my sisters shared with me. I will miss you, sweet Papa, but I couldn’t have more assurance that you are restored in Christ.
I am Glenn’s third daughter. There are four of us. If you want to know anything about my dad, you can see it all in his four girls. He leaves behind a legacy of artistic, musical, creative, crafty and equipped human beings.
When I got on the airplane to visit my dad a week ago Sunday I didn’t realize I would be saying goodbye to him so quickly. I thank God I came in when I did. The last few days of his life were bittersweet and swift.
But God will save my life and take me from the grave. Psalm 49:15
I brought a book to read to him called “God’s Promises for Every Day” which is a collection of scriptures for life’s difficulties and situations. He didn’t like noise or talking in the end, so I didn’t read it to him. I did however open it for myself the night he passed away and what I found was a love letter to us girls from my Heavenly Father about my earthly father.
I tell you the truth, whoever hears what I say and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life. That person will not be judged guilty but has already left death and entered into eternal life. John 5:24
My dad stood firm on his faith and wasn’t afraid to share that, but he also accompanied us as we stumbled through life, telling us what he thought but respecting our choices. He always wanted to be a safe place we could go in trouble.
As for Me
I remember the time I was taken to the local police station for jumping a fence of an apartment building near the high school with a bunch of my friends during a summer heat wave to use their swimming pool. I was charged with a curfew violation and had to do community service. I was mortified. When my dad showed up to get me from the police station, I was terrified of what he would say. All he said was “Next time you want to go swimming late at night tell me and I will tell you where to go that you won’t get caught.” He didn’t punish me further because he could see I was remorseful and punishing myself enough for all of us.
The Lord God helps me so I will not be ashamed. I will be determined and I know I will not be disgraced. Isaiah 50:7
My sister Mary shared with me that during a horrible week she had one year while in college, she was on her way to a final exam when her tire went flat. She pulled over and called my dad sobbing. He simply asked “Where is your exam?” And told her to go take it. When she came out, her tire was fixed and he had even paid for her parking.
Praise the Lord God our Savior who helps us every day. Psalm 68:19
A few weeks ago I was in San Juan Capistrano, home of the mission founded by St Junipero Sierra. He loved the swallows like my dad and the town has a parade each year to welcome the return of the swallows. Dad lived his life by the arrival and departure of his barn swallows each year. Mary gave us each a swallow pendant the other day and this verse:
How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Ps 84:1-3
My dad always had a sense of rhythm and was either whistling or doing some kind of “Glenn Beat Boxing.”
He told Susie during her high school band days that his favorite thing was when the fight song started on stage with big dumb beats and a cloud of dust would rise up from the stage. There is a picture of Susie giving my dad a kiss on the cheek that is one of my favorite pictures in the world. It says so much about the sweetness between them. He was always emphasized how precious we were and how we could do anything.
For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and future. Jeremiah 29:11
Judy remembers my dad coming home from work when we lived in an apartment complex in Columbus. We didn’t have much, but we had a community swimming pool. He would change out of his work clothes and into his swim suit with light speed. In five minutes he would be back down the stairs and out the door with us girls to the pool.
Judy lives in New York now, and since dad wasn’t able to visit her in his later years, he would zoom in on “Google Earth” and go to “street view”, checking out her apartment building and where she could go to grocery shop, etc.
One day a cute little car drove by us and Judy asked and our dad what kind it was. He said “Stutz Bearcat, and if you can remember that name, I will buy you one when you are 16!” One of the first things Judy said to him when she arrived from Nee York to say goodbye to him was “Stutz Barecat!” I told her it was in the same garage in heaven as his Harley and Piper Cub airplane he always wanted.
He taught us to swim. He taught us to check the oil on our cars. We are among the few and proud women we know who can tell you how to get somewhere using actual directions: North, South, East and West. We know what a Piper Cub airplane is and about HAM radio handles. We know about Morse Code and key radios. When looking at his workshop in the basement of his and Sue’s house the other day, I pointed to some transistors and how I used to organize them for him. Mary simultaneously pointed to a jumble of colored wire and said she used to sort that wire for him. Cousins of ours posted that Dad taught them to play guitar and operate HAM radios.
He and Sue spun wool and would knit all kinds of things for us…hats, scarves and sweaters. They would demonstrate spinning at local fairs and museums, both of them teachers at heart.
Dad volunteered at the local schools as a tutor. He became very attached to his students, and was constantly reminding them and us of their worth. I told my friend Kk the other day that mothers are the center of our universe, but Fathers make or break us. My father made us.
My dad and Sue used to come once a week to pick up my kids from school. Sue would bring perfect looking little snack trays with healthy snacks. They would often go to the library and do homework and then come home and play hat tag (where my dad sat on a swing and threw his baseball hat to tag the kids) while sue made a wonderful dinner for us. I would have an afternoon to run errands and get shopping done. The best of all was the game where dad would draw a line on a paper and pass it and each of us would add one line or shape to the picture. As it went from person to person, it slowly evolved into a collective picture created by all.
Fathers quell fear.
I want to share so much about my dad… how he sang Puff the Magic Dragon to Judy and I on the guitar at bedtime, or how we played “Alligator Pit” or took rides on his shoes and he would try to walk around with one of us on each leg. But the best thing about my dad is the best thing about our Heavenly Father.
Fear is not from God and my dad didn’t permit it either.
Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18
I used to be terrified of storms and my dad taught us girls how to watch for weather that was dangerous and how a tornado might develop. He knew knowledge and faith conquered fear. He hung an old brass barometer on the wall near the back door. While at dad’s the other day Mary said “Meg” and pointed to it. She said “I remember you tapping away at this and I asked you why, and you said that is what daddy would do if it was going to storm.” He later taught me how to read the barometer which to me was exemplary of how he instructed me NOT to be afraid.
Look up to the skies, who created all these stars? He leads out the army of heaven, one by one, and calls all the stars by name. Because He is strong and powerful, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26
My oldest son Brady said it best in a message to my dad recently. He said that anytime he was upset he would come to me and I would give him the advice that my dad gave me. “Honey, I have been through the end of the world so many times and it all works out just fine.”
Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7
I can’t talk about our dad who was so lyrical and poetic without closing with a little poem:
An artist, a writer, a poet and a HAM
Illustrating, football playing
Whistling happy man
A comic and a soda jerk
Mowing, fixing, army clerk
A pilot and a weatherman
Tomorrow has no hold on us and yesterday is gone
All we have is this moment: use it well and be strong
For there are birds to love and skies to watch
There is No time to be sad
Fill each moment with beauty and imitate my dad.