Goodbye Dad

This is an edited and cleaned up version of the eulogy I gave at my dad's funeral. I remember an Elder Holland quote from around the year 2000 about serving a mission and how there hasn't really been one day since finishing his mission that he didn't think about it. It's now been awhile since my dad passed away and, while it has gotten easier and life has gone on, I'm pretty sure there will never be another day I won't think of him. I miss him...every day.

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My dad died on July 7, 2021. I got the phone call at 7:27am and as I walked to my parent's house:

  • They were picking up trash.
  • Sprinklers were on at the neighbor's house.
  • There were birds chirping.

You know how in a lot of action and disaster movie trailers, there is always a narrator, who says, in a deep foreboding voice, that movie trailer voice, “nothing will ever be the same again!"

That's what that day, that moment, felt like to me.

For everyone who knew my dad, the world really won't ever be the same again.

My dad has been at every significant event in my life!

My wife noticed the other day, as a lot of family and friends were posting tributes to dad on their Facebook feeds, that almost all the tributes included a picture.

And she commented about how nice it was that there were so many pictures to choose from, because he showed up to so many things.

He really was there, at all the big moments and the little moments, my dad was there!

Young Jay

When I was a kid dad was an audio/visual professor at a California state university. I still have no idea what he actually taught, but I do remember he would bring all these paintings and other artwork home from his students.

He would set up a card table in the living room and grade all the art while watching TV, and I would sit under the card table and look at all of the paintings, drawings, and illustrations before handing them up to him. I love art because of moments like that.

Teenager Jay

We moved to Utah in 1989, and dad ran the ASVAB test for the military, I know this because he would ask all my friends if they had heard of the ASVAB, the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery Test, and then give them a whole pitch on why they should take the ASVAB and what it could do for them.

Teenage me found this incredibly embarrassing at the time, and it's been an inside joke in our family for years and years ("have you heard of the ASVAB?" in a mocking voice), but it's stuck with me to this day, my dad liked his job!

Pre-Mission Jay

Before I left on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ, I was going to school down in southern Utah. My parents were living in Maryland at the time.

I needed to get from southern Utah to Maryland and my dad came up with the solution. He drove from Maryland to Southern Utah to pick me up.

  • Then we went to northern Utah.
  • Then to California.
  • Then to Washington state.
  • Then to Montana.
  • Then to Chicago, Illinois so I could visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Dad knew one of my favorite paintings hung there and he wanted me to see it in person.
  • Then home to Maryland.

He planned the whole thing, I was just along for the ride. And over the years I've thought of that trip so many times.

Post-Mission Jay

After my mission, I signed up to attend Utah Valley University, and my dad took me down to Provo and helped me move into my apartment.

While we were moving in he told me he thought I should go to BYU instead, he'd gone to BYU after all.

I told them there was nothing we could do about it now. He disagreed.

He took me to the admission's office at BYU, he talked with the front desk people.

I was embarrassed, standing behind him.

The front desk people went and found an admissions officer, and the admissions officer had us come back to his office.

My dad did all the talking, and before I knew what was happening, I was enrolling in BYU.

I have a Computer Science degree from BYU because of my dad.

Current Jay

A few weeks ago I sent a picture to him of a painting we were thinking of buying at the art fair, I wanted his thoughts.

Two weeks ago, just hours before I drove him to the Emergency Room, he was feeling better so we went to lunch, he wanted Olive Garden because he felt like their soup, and mom reminded him I don't like the Olive Garden, and so he said we could go somewhere else.

I told him if he wanted the Olive Garden, we're going to the Olive Garden.

None of us knew at the time that would be his last real meal, but even then, he was willing to go somewhere else to make sure I was good. That was my dad!

Stories

Every one of us has stories like the ones I just told.

Gary

Gary told me about how, when he was a teenager, dad was kind of a big deal in their ward among the youth, everyone knew him and liked him, and so when they found out that Gary was his son then they would say things like you're so lucky and it must be so cool to be his son. Gary always felt like a rockstar because of dad.

Becky

Becky can talk about how dad pulled off the road once in the middle of nowhere desert because he could see a lake out there and they kept going and going because dad could see the lake, which was obviously a mirage, they went until they got stuck in the sand, they couldn't even see the road anymore and David and Gary were able to find an old metal sign and that gave them enough traction to get unstuck. They never tried to find a lake again out there.

David

David can talk about how the parents got sick of taking him to early morning seminary and so dad showed up one day and said I've got something for you and outside was a brand new 71 Mercury cougar, and dad handed him the payment book and the keys and told him to not be late on payments because it was in dad's name.

Yvonne

My dad adopted Yvonne after marrying mom, and Yvonne can talk about when he came in to pick her up for lunch at her office and her boss was saying how he knew dad was her dad because they look so much alike, dad just looked at Yvonne and winked.

Linda

Linda can talk about one time, in the 70s, dad picked her and Vic up and took them shopping, he said they could buy anything up to $25, and she chose a ring and he probably never knew that she still has it and it still means a lot to her.

Victor

Victor can talk about the time him and his friends "borrowed" a pizza from a pizza man without paying and they took it to a friend's house and the cops showed up.

The cop called dad and Victor heard on the phone, "kick his EXPLETIVE" and that's the first, and only time, Victor ever heard dad swear, and he was the Bishop at the time.

Kami

Kami can talk about all the mundane times she spent with dad, like dad driving her to school every morning. Or her stopping by his office when she got home for the night and him pausing the movie he was watching and chatting with her for awhile.

Or how she would ask him to find you something, and he would spend months tracking it down and one day she would come home and it would be there.

I had to laugh at that last one because dad did that for me also, I asked dad to look out for a book I couldn't find, not even on Amazon or eBay, and then, like a year later, I came home and it was sitting on my bed.

Lisa

Lisa can talk about how she recently took him to the rock fair and he was starting to get weak but they went through the whole thing and at the end he said he hadn't found something for my mom yet.

So they went back through all the booths again to find a little figure for mom, and when they found some, he examined every one of them until he found the one he thought she would like the best.

Mom

Mom told me that her and dad once took a class and the teacher asked them to write down what they liked about their spouse. She showed it to me the day he died, it was titled, "list of Dave's good qualities, 2001."

The list was 7 pages long.

Conclusion

In his book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, David Eagleman writes:

“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”

Dad's first death was last week, his second death will be today, but I don't think he'll ever see that third death.

Dad will physically be missed, by everyone in this room, and countless others who couldn't make it today, but he won't be forgotten, he'll live on in get togethers and reunions.

A funny story here, or a joke he used to tell there.

Dad, we love you, we miss you, and we won't forget you.

Thank you for being our husband, our father, our friend.

Thank you for being there.