Eulogy for Dad
Eulogy for Dad - by Linda MacKay- March 7, 2015
Lilly just gave you some history and loving glimpses into what kind of dad we had. We all experienced Dad as a generous and talented man, a hard worker with a can-do attitude.
One of the things I treasured about dad was that he was a builder. He built houses, built a boat, a camper, and child-sized furniture for us to have tea parties with our dolls. When I started up my country garden, he helped me build planter boxes and showed me how to hold and use certain power tools and manual tools efficiently.
I grew up with a dad who I knew could make anything and fix anything.
He was a self-made man and he shared his talents and wisdom with others, but never spoke more than he needed to. He was quiet and wise.
I also shared a love of horses with my Dad. I have always had a passion for horses and when I was a little girl, I drew horse pictures, read all the horse books, and dreamt of having a horse. I was convinced we could keep a horse in our backyard- WE had PLENTY of grass! I would pretend to be a horse and let Lilly ride on my back ( I was really glad she was light)!
One day Dad came home and said he had found a horse for me! I was soo excited! We drove out to a farm outside of Calgary and loaded up the most beautiful white horse I could imagine. Ich habe meinen schoenen traum Schimmel bekommen. I had received my beautiful white dream horse!! Of course I named him Silver and we kept him on an acreage in Bearspaw that Dad had part ownership in.
Dad would often take us there for family outings- Lilly and I would get dropped off at the gate to find Silver in the 80 acres of forest with a bucket of oats and we would happily ride bareback back to where Eileen and Arnie and mom and dad were already set up to go fishing or go water skiing or have a wiener roast. I will never forget how dad helped to fulfill this impossible dream of a city girl.
Our horse connection continued when Dad came out to ride with Tom and me at our place outside of Calgary. I was surprised he was such a good rider- but I shouldn't have been! One night, as I was discussing a trip Tom and I were planning to Italy, he opened up with some new war stories about Italy he had kept to himself for many years. Dad was humble and didn't boast about his accomplishments, but I was truly blown away when he told me some stories that movies could be made of!
Dad was a young boy soon to become a man as the war began. He had been responsible for a team of heavy horses used in the Artillery. They arrived by train in the dead of night into Italy and unloaded the horses and Dad rode bareback on the lead team horse and guided his team over rough terrain past the leaning Tower of Pisa trying not to be discovered. He was only a young teenager when he was sent to war with gunfire and danger all around him.
He had one of his favourite horses shot out from under him during one battle on the front and it fell on top of him. When the opposing soldiers walked by they assumed he was dead and walked right by. His horse had actually saved his life by falling on him and camouflaging him.
Dad was a practical and thoughtful farm boy and saved his horse's manure and gave it to the Italian restaurants to use as fertilizer for their gardens. The Italians loved this Young German soldier boy and fed him extra to help him grow.
When he went back to the Tuscan village years later with wife and grown child in tow, as soon as he entered the village, the restauranteurs family recognized him, cried ‘Adolfo’, ran to him, and called the other villagers to come and see him. They had a celebration and party in his honour. He had made an impression that had lasted fifty years!
He was quiet, but Dad was remembered by many.
So you see, Dad's sweet, humble character and kindness existed as a young man and we were able to watch our hero first hand in how he dealt with the larger and smaller things of life.
When I got the call from Lilly that Dad had died, I was in shock and of course extremely sad that I wouldn't see my papa again here on earth. I had planned to see him in May and plant up his usual flower circle and weed with him on his lawn. It was not to be.
And I cried out to God but it wasn't in agony and pain so much as it was in extreme thanks that mom and dad had prayed so much for me over the years that I would become a child of God. And also that Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit into my life to give me the wisdom to say all of the things to my Dad over the years that I wanted to. I was at peace that first day because I did not have any regrets. I had loved my dad, made time for him, told him how special he was in cards and on the phone, and had a loving relationship with him.
I had written several cards to Dad and mom over the years including this past year. I want to read parts of a few of them so you know what I was able to tell him before he died and also what he was able to read over and over again with tears of joy in his eyes. They meant so much to him.
Excerpts from a few cards written recently. (Actual cards held up and read from)
From one of the cards I sent Dad for his birthday Dec 14.
“Dear Dad, Papa, Vati, Daddy, Father! We wish you a very Happy Birthday! Wowee! 89 years old and still a "young-at-heart" and very sweet man! Dad, I couldn't have wished for a better Dad- you were a Great Provider and awesome example of a hard worker who cared for his family. You are smart and kind and generous and handsome and full of love. We look forward to seeing you at Christmas and what a Blessing that we will all be together in Heaven!" And then Tom wrote....."I've learnt a lot from you over the years- how to fish, how to build things, how to be patient, and how to keep things in perspective..."
A couple of days later, I wrote a Christmas card to mom and dad so it would arrive before they stayed with us at Christmastime. I start with the bible verse Psalm 118:1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever" "The above bible verse reminds me of our upbringing- so full of love, and so bible- based! You were always thankful for what you had and you instilled that in us. Such a legacy- thankyou for exposing us to such unconditional love and your Motherly love and your Fatherly Love." And then on the next page I wrote something in third person titled "Ode to Mom and Dad” I start out with the bible verse from John 4:12 "If we love each other, God lives in us..."
"My Mother’s Love and My Father’s Love provided me with a stable childhood full of laughter and Joy. My parents almost never argued. They loved us and they loved each other. My loving environment allowed me to flourish and grow and always know that my parents would be there for me and be supportive. They were generous and smart and had Many Friends. They were kind. They disciplined us so that we would become respectful- an occasional reminder to not be selfish and willful. They did the best they could- always in Love- and it was more than sufficient. It was a GREAT childhood. P.S. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing- because I know your motivation was always love!"
The last letter I am reading to you was written two weeks ago when I was also in Hawaii.
"Aloha mom and dad! I take pen to paper in thanks for having such beautiful, loving parents- a treasure beyond description. I re-read your card with the tulips on it and can hear your singing voice and happy heart as you describe Spring around the corner. What a gift you are! This legacy of giving thinks that you have both instilled in us is a discipline that began when we were young. It opened our hearts to the love and beauty around us- in the little things and the big things- all the gifts that God gives- including His Son.
"Thank you" is not a big enough word and neither is shouting "THANK YOU!" Dearest mama and papa, tears come to my eyes when I think of you both- all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you will continue to be in future. You will live on in the hearts of others long after you are gone - I thank God for your Legacy- the Gift of You!! Love Linda and Tom"
This last letter arrived in the mail two days after my Dad died, so he wasn't able to read it. And although in a way, this is heartbreaking, my mom was able to read it which was great and also I had written several similar letters to my dad over the years, so it was ok.
I am so blessed and happy that I told my mom and dad so many times how much they meant to me and that I was able to tell my Dad and show my Dad how much I loved him.
So here I am in front of you, without a daddy, my mom is without her loving husband and soul mate, friends and relatives are without that generous and gracious man, and we miss Dad enormously. But we can have peace when a loved one dies. Mom and dad taught us well.
We Know that we will see Dad again in Heaven- that relationship lasts for an eternity- it is infinite.
And to have peace here on earth, mom and dad taught us by example to do whatever we could for our loved ones.
Forgive if needed, make time for them, and tell them in kindness all the ways you care for them. Hug them, love on them. Be generous. Be supportive. Watch your words. Pray for them. Be blessed and be a blessing.
Thank you for that example of a father's love, papa and for giving me a glimpse of my Father in Heaven. I love you.