For My Dad

My Father died on Christmas day in 1993 of throat cancer. He was and still is the finest man I’ve ever known. I miss him every day. I wrote the following a few days before he died and I read it as a eulogy at his funeral.

For My Father

I knew a man. He was not perfect by any means, but he was a success. I met him 24 years ago. I was very young at the time so there was much that I didn’t understand. The man was introduced to me by his wife, who is also a success.

Being young, I was needy, or perhaps just greedy. But this man saw something in me that others did not. So he took it upon himself, with the essential help of his wife, to help me grow up. Thinking back on his decision, I find it strange that he should choose to do this. After all he surely had other tasks and goals to accomplish. It was not until many years later that I learned he had done this before. Six times before. I still don’t know exactly why he did it, but I have some ideas.

I think he had a passion to do things the right way. He saw that with no one to guide me, or with a lesser man guiding me, the potential he saw in me would be lost to the world. Which brings up another point. I think this man wanted to make the world a better place and helping me reach maturity with his assistance was one of the ways to do that.

In any case, he did take on the monumental task of guiding and educating me and six others. He did this with a liberal application of the carrot and an extremely sparring use of the stick, although the stick did come out when necessary. He had a rare talent of making me the center of his attention. It seemed vital to him that I learn all he had to teach, and I must admit I was a less than perfect student. But that didn’t bother him; he would just keep on until he was sure that I understood. And later in life, when it seemed I’d forgotten or was ignoring all that he’d taught me, he was patient. I guess he knew that his words had taken root. He knew just how hard to push, when to open his arms, and when to close them. He was wise enough to warn me about bad decisions, then let me make them anyway. As I said, he was not perfect and as I was growing up I often cursed him and threw his imperfections in his face. But he never cursed me back or pointed out my own faults. I am amazed at his tolerance.

But what amazed me most is his strength. Surely it must have taken all the patience, strength, and endurance he possessed to put up with me when I was younger, more stubborn, and more arrogant than I am now? It did not. He had enough left over not only for the six others like me, but for everyone in his life. In fact it seems he had an unlimited supply. He worked every day of his life starting long before I ever met him. He did all this in one lifetime when most men couldn’t fit that many accomplishments into multiple lives.

This is the man I wanted to introduce you to. He was never President, he didn’t invent the cure to any diseases, he isn’t a philosopher or poet or world leader. He is however the greatest man I ever met. His life is over now, but I just wanted to insure that he knows how successful he is.

Thanks Dad.

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