When I was a little girl, I can remember thinking that there was something really special about my dad.
I mentioned this to a friend of mine last week and they said, “Oh you’re a daddy’s girl.” I have to say though, that I wasn’t because the idea that there was something unique about my dad, is a belief I’ve carried into adulthood.
Growing up with his words, his actions, ideas, and his energy, has over time, reinforced to me, that he was extraordinary.
When he was a boy, he worked at a grocery store and the owner told him to put the overly ripe fruit on the bottom and cover it with the fresh fruit. This deception, so appalled my dad, that he quit.
Fairness to others, honor, being a true gentleman. This was a philosophy he practiced all his life.
When I was a kid and he used to do consultations at the prisons, I asked him, how could he work and help those bad people. He said, “Well, not all of us are born with equal chances or intelligence.”
When I was in college, he was giving a lecture to one of my classes on the mentally retarded and a student asked, “Why does the mentally retarded need a psychiatrist?” And he said, “Just because they are mentally retarded, doesn’t mean they don’t have mental illness. They have the same mental illnesses as everyone else, including depression. They understand that they are not like everyone else and it can make them pretty sad.”
Dad was a compassionate man.
He never, though, confused compassion with weakness. He was direct, didn’t mince words and had strong opinions. But, he had this way of listening, that let you know he understood and he cared.
He had sense of humor and wit. With maybe only three of four words, he could make a subtle observation, about everyday life and it would make you laugh out loud. Perhaps it helped that he had great delivery, but the more you thought about it, the funnier it got, because it would dawn on you, that there was a lot more to it. He loved to pun and also got the greatest kick out of being a dad. When we were kids, we would be snorkeling around the springs or out on the Gulf, and he would come over and ever so gently, slowly close the top of the snorkel.
When I was in High school at P.K Young, I was hanging out with my friends, next to the band room and Dad came walking up the street. I ran over to him and was hugging him and kissing him and making a fuss over him, and he said in a voice loud enough for my friends to hear, “Excuse me young lady, do I know you?!.”
I could go on for a while about my dad: about his intelligence, his love of classic literature, of being out on the water, how he was an inspiration to so many people and of his pride in children and grandchildren. Of how, especially before his heart attack 10 years ago, he was a real mover and shaker, and literally walked with a bounce in his step. That heart attack was a big one, and it took away that bounce, but it didn’t take away that… twinkle in his eyes. I’m sorry for the cliché, but I don’t know how else to put it, but anyone that knew him, knows what I’m talking about. You could see him light up, see that spark, when you walked in the room and he greeted you hello. It was unmistakable.
But one area I haven’t mentioned yet, was his capacity to love. He loved my mother totally and completely and was crazy about her. It went both ways. I have always thought they set the gold standard for marriage. He loved and enjoyed his family and his friends. As one of his kids, I always knew that he would be there for me no matter what and I grew up knowing that he loved me unconditionally. I loved to just be in his presence.
We are here today, to celebrate the life of my father and I would like to tell you, that I am so lucky. Here was this remarkable, compassionate, funny, intelligent and loving gentleman, and he was also our father, husband, brother, brother-in-law, father-in-law, grandfather, friend, and we will have that, all our lives.