Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rough Father's Day

I've been procrastinating writing this post, but it seems appropriate that I do it today. My dad passed away 3 weeks ago tomorrow. I didn't think today would be so rough, but as we got closer there were more and more mentions of Father's Day coming up and every one of them became a reminder that he's gone. However, today is a day to celebrate fathers. Likewise, the memorial for my dad was meant to be a celebration of his life. Below is the eulogy I gave at his memorial, but before that I just want to say Happy Father's Day to those who are still doing a great job and to those who we can only remember.

What can I say about John S---? Some of you knew him as John. Most of you knew him as Jack. I simply knew him as Dad. I spent a lot of time staring at my computer screen trying to come up with what I could say that would be good enough to be a proper eulogy. Eventually I started just putting any little memory of him down and decided that that’s what I could do. I could share some of my memories of who he was as I saw him.

Dad was the guy who I wanted to dress like. I still remember many times going to church in our matching red and white striped shirts. I think I even had some clip on ties to complete the effect.

He was the guy who I went grocery shopping with every week. He seemed to know every one of the guys working there and he’d flag them down then they’d help get his chair out of the car. Eventually I got big enough and was so proud to be able to do that for him so we didn’t have to wait.

He was the guy who gave me my odd sense of humor and love for bizarre movies. Just this weekend I went to a midnight showing of one of our favorites: Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail.

He was the guy who just as I was waking up was pulling out of the driveway to start 1-2 hour drive on his way to work.

When I got into high school and especially that last summer before college, he was the one I argued the most with. I don’t even remember what about, but if it was something we could argue about, we’d do it. I couldn’t wait to get out of the house mainly because of him.

Then when I got to college and was no longer arguing with him every day, I heard a joke that I realized fit both of us. Arguing with an engineer is like mud wrestling with a pig. After a while you realize they enjoy it. That was when he and I finally started to get along again after what seemed like an oppressive eternity, at least to a teenager.

Visits home involved conversations about how school was going, or how ultimate Frisbee was. I remember one time he couldn’t believe that I could throw a Frisbee 3 or 4 houses down on our block. It was a nice day so we took a stroll down to the park and went out on the soccer field. I’m happy to say that I put it through the goalposts at the other end of the field. Those conversations then turned into how the car was running, how work was going, and usually how the Chicago Bears were doing.

Dad was also the one who gave me some of the best advice on my wedding day. He told me to take the time to focus on remembering the specific parts I wanted to remember because the whole thing was going to go by so fast that it would be a blur if I didn’t. It’s been 5 years and I still remember every bit of Charleen walking down the aisle.

He was the guy who taught my cat an interesting trick. Slider was staying with my parents for about 3-4 months during one of our moving transitions. During that time I discovered that dad had taught him this little trick. He’d take a piece of Slider’s food and toss it across the floor. Then Slider would play with it before eating. That was 2 years ago and Slider still plays with his food across our kitchen floor without any help from me or Charleen.

Dad was also the one who gave me my hair. I may have gotten most of my genes from my mom’s side of the family, but just yesterday when I got my hair cut and looked down at the floor. There was my dad’s hair. Dark, thick, and speckled with a bit of grey.

He was my hero, my opponent, my friend, my adviser. He was that guy in the wheelchair that everyone seemed to know and was impossible to forget. He was my dad. 

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