So its been 2 weeks since my father passed away. Many of you knew he was sick (and maybe heard of his passing). One of the bright spots in this ordeal was the overwhelming support I received from you, my F3 brothers. It truly meant a lot.
I want to let you know though, how F3 has helped me and others deal with his death in a much more profound way. I gave the eulogy at my dad’s funeral. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Through sobs and tears, I poured out my thoughts to all who attended. My dad meant so much to so many, including my brother and mother, and I know my eulogy helped us all get through this time a little bit better.
I’m not sure if I’d have been able to write this though, or had the courage to deliver it, if I had not been able to explore my own faith through those posts I’ve done on the F3 website. This is a tremendous forum for a random grouping of guys and has helped me grow and mature so much as a person in a short period of time. Just reading all the meaningful posts by so many is a tremendous gift to us all. I do feel God, through F3 and other means, helped prepare me for my father’s death, and helped me help the many who also terribly felt his loss.
It was suggested I post this eulogy on our website, and so here it is. Hopefully it will speak to some of you in some way.
Thanks, The Shore
I pray to my dad and our Father in Heaven for the strength to speak today. I want to tell you a little about my dad and how gracefully he died.
You know he was a great man.
For me, he was my father. My mentor. My guide. He was my support system and my friend. He provided everything for me. And he loved us all, unconditionally.
I’m sure he was special to each of you. I imagine you all have your own wonderful memories of him and you all respected and loved him as well.
He was a shinning example of hard work, devotion, and a life well lead. And he loved us all very much.
In the end, what he most looked forward to was getting better and spending more time with each of us.
But, of course, that was not to be.
I know many of you wished to have seen him one last time. To have had a chance to say good-bye. My intention today is to let each of you know what this last month was like for him. And to reassure you that he was at peace and is in a better place today.
If this last month was a glimpse into his soul, then he truly was a wonderful man. He was gracious and understanding. He was at peace.
He recognized early on that he was in for quite a struggle. In fact, when he was first diagnosed with cancer, he related to my mom and I that while he had read the bible daily in New Jersey, he had stopped that practice since retiring to South Carolina. However, early in December, before any of this started, something sparked in him that made him pick up that bible and begin to read it again. He stated, “It was as if God was preparing me for this.”
In that last month, he viewed his life as a blessing. He stated often how he had accomplished everything he could have ever wanted.
If he had just one regret, it was that he wished he could have had more time to help raise the grandkids.
But, of course, that was not meant to be either.
In the end, on that last day, after he was extubated, the first words out of his mouth, as mom rushed to his side were, “I love you very much.” As he passed a short time later, the last words he heard were from my mother. She read him Psalm 23, and she told him, “I love you.” And then he peacefully stopped breathing.
My mom, at some point during that last hour, had also reminded him of that soldier’s letter to his wife that meant so much to him. She reminded him we would all recognize him in the wind. In the gentle breeze across our cheek.
Well, when he died, and my brother, my mother and I had had time to digest everything, the first person I texted was Sarah, my wife. She immediately texted me back. Not knowing anything about this letter or the meaning of the wind, she wrote to me. She said, “Since it was such a windy day, she could only imagine my dad was off sailing now.”
We had all been inside and were unaware of the tempest brewing outside. In fact, the next text I got, and I was not even aware this was possible, but the next text I got was from the Weather Channel. Evidentially, within a half hour of my father’s death, there was a tornado warning posted for the Charlotte area. We do not get tornados in Charlotte! And I do not get text messages from the Weather Channel! My father’s spirit was powerfully alive all around us!
Later that night, as I lay in bed, the wind still swirled around our house. And I prayed to my father. I prayed, “I know you are safe in heaven dad.” And the winds howled back at me.
I prayed, “I love you and I know you are at peace.” And the winds howled again.
I then went outside to embrace the weather. To stare up into the heavens, and to be with my father.
You see, over the last year my faith had waned. And over the last month, with my father’s declining health, I worried about him and his fate. In my weakness, I had my doubts. Of course I wished he would be in Heaven, but I was not sure. I only knew that my father would not be with us anymore.
Well, as I lay back in bed that night, listening to that wind and praying to my father, my doubts and fears melted away. I finally prayed to him that I knew he was safe in Heaven, at God’s side. I told him that I knew he was there looking over us and still there to guide us in the right direction. And at that moment, when I verbally acknowledged my certainty of his salvation… the winds stopped. They quieted completely. And I knew my father was at peace.
In that last month my dad had also related what he called a “vision of death.” In it, he was standing in a field, and there was an infinite assembly line of people extending past the horizon. These people, these angels, were waiting for him. And they all had their hands raised in the air, cheering. Cheering for him. Welcoming him.
The night before he died, I had that same vision, only this time the line was not infinite. At the end of that line of angels were my father’s parents. And God. And Jesus. And they welcomed him with open arms into their presence. Into Heaven. And I know now he is there with them.
Just as God prepared my father for this moment, and just as He opened my eyes to His grace and peace… If you are are confused by the speed with which my dad died, and why this happened… Maybe, my father died so that we all might get a little closer to God and His eternal love. My dad is still showing us the way to a life well lead. For the grandkids: Tyler and Liah. Taber, Nathan, and Elle Louise. Grandpa is now in Heaven. But he is there to talk to. He is there to listen to you. And he is here in your heart and up there in Heaven to guide you just as he always wanted.
He lives on in all of us in the many ways he influenced us in our lives. And he now walks with us helping prepare us for our own salvation. Rest in peace dad. We love you.