The Speech You Never Want to Give

This is as raw as it gets. When I started documenting this journey back in 2015, I promised myself I would share it all (within reason of course). This journey is more than just hunting trips & days on the water. It is my life, my story & my day-to-day.   

Another day I will share the story of his life & how the two years I spent at home with him have shaped me & changed me. But for now, this is all I can muster up. This is the speech I never wanted to write, the one I absolutely dreaded but the one I knew I needed to do.  

On August 11, 2016 I lost my father. Five days later I stood in front of a congregation full of all my fathers loved ones, colleagues, friends & community members and delivered these words. 

Thank you all for coming today to celebrate the life of my father.

Each of you sitting here today had your own relationship with my Dad, each of you have your own set of memories, and your own set of words to describe him. It is hard to put into words how lucky we all are, how blessed we are that we had him in our lives. He was the greatest man I have ever known (now I may be biased) but I challenge you to find another man like him.  He was honest (sometime too honest), passionate, and most of all ever loving. That is one thing I think everyone here can agree upon. The love he had for all of us poured through him.

Summing up my father’s life, I keep coming back to one thought. Never will you meet a man who more faithfully lived his values.

My father was a teacher (and a knower) of all things. His method was simple. He taught by example. At any age, when faced with an ethical dilemma, after reflection, study, or even rationalization, I found myself coming back to one simple question. What would Dad do? His character is the foundation of my conscience.

One of my favorite qualities about my Dad was his ability to love everyone for where they were. He didn’t care about your past, your mistakes; he just cared about you and how he was going to help you make it better moving forward. He always made those around him want to be better. There is a saying in sports; a talented teammate doesn’t show off, but tries to show talent in other teammates, by showing them their potential. And that is exactly what he did.  He was at the center of all of our great plays. When you were with him one on one, that office door closed and those sparkling blue eyes locked in on you, and only you, I’m not sure if I know of a better feeling in this world. He cared, he was listening, and he was going to help in any way he could. I’m going to miss that so very much. My Dad was a connector. He saw relationships, but he also saw potential relationships; with people, with opportunities, with careers. He saw things other people didn’t see.

Now if you knew my dad, you would have known that after that sentence, he would have rolled his eyes or shook his head, or most commonly would have turned to the guy next to him, and said something like, “ they must be talking about you”. He never missed an opportunity to make someone laugh or lighten the mood.  

I'd like to say that he was one of my best friends, and I know he would say that about me, but if I’m honest, he was a best friend to many.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t speak about the green chair in his office at home. Important conversations could only take place while he was sitting in the green chair. And if you were invited to spend some time with him in the office, you knew that you had something serious coming. Life decision coming up? He was in the green chair. Changing jobs again? He was in the green chair. Some of us may have spent more time in that office than others. But he truly enjoyed giving counsel, and he was a mentor to so many people. In so many ways I see him so comfortable sitting with someone, helping them with their career issues, their goals, their problems, their feelings. I never made a big decision in my life without him by my side every step of the way. The outpouring of stories that we have received from those he touched, mentored and moved is nothing short of remarkable — he improved the lives of so many: a claim few can make.

Because of him, I know more useless answers to trivia questions, how to work on tractors, use power tools, that working hard is a way of life, and that your morning coffee should taste like ice cream.

I’ve gathered a few statistic for you:

 0 – the number of times he missed one of my college field hockey games

400 – the number of antique stores he and mom walked through on the way to and from my field hockey games during college

100 – the number of time he let me self diagnose an injury on WebMD until I thought I need amputation

countless numbers  of times I got flicked in the forehead & 1: the number of times I successful got him back

26 years of poking me under the table with a fork when I started to play with spare silverware on the table 

Too many to count are the number of times, I heard “ don’t hurt my car” or “ oh boy, she’s got the boots on. 

I could go on an on about my father, but I will close with this.  A great friend of mine said to me in the final months, it is never easy to see a parent pass, but when a man like him has raised the caliber of daughters you all are; smart, educated, compassionate, beautiful, he has done his job. And he sure has. My father not only left a legacy, but an empire of the strongest women I know. Dad, we will continue to make you proud, to always think, “ What would Dad do”, and always share memories of your life with our littlest generation.  

I love you.