While writing today, I came across an Evernote file from April. I drafted the speech I was to say at my father’s funeral while on the plane to Detroit. It wasn’t the official eulogy, but I was not going to pass up a chance to speak loving words about my father. So, I wrote this for him and said it at the service. Yes, I did say all the words even though we were in a church and some of the older women were mortified. I’m sharing this with the internet today because my father was a good man and I just want to celebrate him today.
I cry about love because of you, Pop
I know about love because of you, Pop
I first talked about love with you, Pop
It feels like I told you everything I needed to
But, there’s still so much I want to tell you, Pop
I want to tell you how it all works out for your baby Boy
I want to show you my life
so you can see yourself in it
I want to show you my love
so you rest knowing that I have
someone who supports my life
I’m grateful, Pop.
All that cussin and plenty shit talkin?
You the one that got me poppin
with the gift of gab
Hard not to think about you
when I’m creating in the lab.
You’re influence of kindness,
not just as an inference
has helped my anger to rest
And for me to press forward
Writing a eulogy
for an immortal man,
my big strong dad
who still called me his baby
right up until he could no longer speak.
Pop seemed invincible because he didn’t fight with the world around him. He didn’t argue with the neighbors. I never heard him talk shit about another human being. I never saw any sort of conflict surrounding his life. A man without conflict is at peace and that peace made Pop immortal. He’ll be remembered for his kind eyes, warm smile, and his enthusiastic greetings. He always spoke with the slang of his youth. It wasn’t uncommon to hear him exclaim, “Hey! What’s happening, Jack!” to people who were not named Jack. He was always approachable and affectionate. There were never any bad moods with him. We could always talk to him. I’ve been in disbelief these last few years. I didn’t want to believe that my big strong dad was getting older, that he was becoming elderly. He used to pick me up without bending his knees. He took us anywhere we wanted to go, whether it was on his bicycle or in his van. He took me all around town. We had our disagreements when I was a teenager and he didn’t like my music. But, it took me growing up and traveling to other countries to really appreciate how good my Pop was to us. He listened when we needed an ear, he never lost his temper with us, and he still called me his “baby” even at 41. Whenever I meet someone and I decide that I like them, I’ll often describe them as “peaceful”. Pops was the most peaceful cat I ever had the pleasure of knowing. I thank him for showing me how to be gentle. I thank him for showing me that i can have a life free from conflict. I thank him for the example he modeled when he would notice an attractive woman, but he would never cat call or harass them. I could tell you all the stories about how great he was as a dad, as a husband, and as a man. Instead, I’ll leave you with a few of his quotes.
“Don’t start none, won’t be none.” There was no conflict in his life because he practiced this maxim daily.
“Keep livin!” This is what he said as a reminder that all we can do (when tragedy strikes those around us) is to keep on living. Life still has more to show us.
“Oh! I think I can make it!” This was the punchline of a joke he used to tell. He had told the joke, about a man driving the wrong way down a one way street, so many times that he’d reduced it to just the punch line. “Oh! I think I can make it!” is what the man says after being told “Hey, man! You can’t go that way!” He would always laugh the loudest at his own joke and I’m proud to have picked up that habit from him. I hear Pop’s voice saying I think I can make it every time I’m about to do something challenging.
If you want to honor his memory, then believe that you can make it the next time someone tells you that you can’t.