Remembering Our Dearly Departed Dads
By Guy Shepherd
PlannedMan

We are products of our parents’ love and devotion, their vows to each other and to us. There is a world of difference between making a baby and being a parent.

Remembering Our Dearly Departed Dads
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Highlights


It was a blessing that my father was allowed to die as well as he lived.

He taught us how to love our mother, how to love each other, how to love our wives, and how to love our children.

Our dad did not die without knowing what he meant to us. He was more than loved; he was adored.

They say, “Dogs are man’s best friend.” Frank was a dog’s best friend.

Editor’s Note: this is a eulogy I delivered on the passing of my father, Frank, on January 8, 2012. The passage of time has only increased my love and admiration for him. He was the greatest of fathers and still lives in our hearts and memories.

The Darkness is obvious—we are all here, bearing heavy hearts.

Our father, and your friend, was a great lover of life. His departure from our world will not go unrecognized. With his passing, our world has just become less funny and less loving.

Our dad’s personality, like Nature, abhorred a vacuum. Frank instinctively filled a room and hearts. He could not help himself.

We are products of our parents’ love and devotion, their vows to each other and to us. There is a world of difference between making a baby and being a parent.

Our dad was there for his family, at every moment of his living life—Provider, Protector, Teacher, Entertainer and Friend.

He would give the shirt off his back to help someone. I know this because on more than one occasion, I took the shirt—not to mention some sweaters, shoes and cash.

Frank’s “Boys” come in all shapes, sizes and dispositions, as you can see. Our common virtue is we all knew how lucky and blessed we were to have Frank as our dad.

Today, with him lying over there before us, being prepared to be taken away and buried, we are leaning on our faith, family and friends to deal with the loneliness that comes with going from having two of the best parents in the world to one.

Mom, we can bear our loss of Dad because you are our family’s rock, and because you are with us. (My mom is alive and kicking.)

To our extended family and friends, I can’t tell you how much your support and presence mean to us. Many are here because they knew and loved my dad. Many are here because they loved someone in this big family. And I speak for us all: you are family.

Everyone in this church is sad.

But if you believed as my father did—and as we, his family, do—the darkness of physical death is not the final end but a prelude to a new dawn of life everlasting. His soul is immortal.

Father Jim, I don’t know if I am on solid, theological ground; but I believe the soul of the physically departed gets to hang around through their wake and funeral—they leave us at the cemetery. I’m not sure about the after party.

Dad, it’s nice to have you here with us. Looking to the dawn and promise of faith, we not only can find comfort but a genuine reason to celebrate!

Our dad was there for his family, at every moment of his living life—Provider, Protector, Teacher, Entertainer and Friend.

Our dad was there for his family, at every moment of his living life—Provider, Protector, Teacher, Entertainer and Friend.

When we were together as a family, enjoying each other’s company and conversation, our dad would invariably say, “Life is good.” In his later years, he would follow up with: “It’s been a good run.”

My brother, Michael, not only looks like my dad, he has my father’s sensitivity as well. While we were sitting at his bedside during his final hours, he said, “Dad taught us how to love. He taught us how to love our mother, how to love each other, how to love our wives, and how to love our children.”

Well said, Michael.

I would only add that he taught us to love our friends and country too. Frank was a patriot—he loved his country and his flag. While he loved traveling, he always came back to confirm we live in the best country in the world.

He also taught us how to love animals, particularly dogs. They say, “Dogs are man’s best friend.” Frank was a dog’s best friend.

It was a blessing that my father was allowed to die as well as he lived.

For those of you here from the health-care profession: thank you for treating the whole person. They not only treated my dad with care and dignity, they were there for us as well.

While he could not speak, we knew his mind and heart: “Life is good, and it’s been a good run.” Our dad did not die without knowing what he meant to us. He was more than loved; he was adored.

He took his last breath with his loving wife’s lips on his face—his children’s hands on his hands, chest and feet. He died, loved from head to toe.

The evening before my grandfather’s funeral, I sat at my parents’ kitchen table with my dad and shared with him the eulogy I would soon deliver. He read it. He laughed and cried where appropriate. When he was finished, he spoke prophetically: “Guy, I was not born into this world to tell the truth but to entertain.”

Everyone knew the Robin Williams side of our dad’s nature. He loved life’s stage—we are so happy we celebrated our entertainer’s last year on his 80th birthday with so many of you. He said, walking out, with a little help, “I could die today.” Well, God must have heard him, and it took God several months to get his new stage ready.

Frank had more than a sense of humor; he had a sense of faith. As you would expect, Dad had a special theology made to measure for his unique soul, but I think also very much within the church’s doctrine.

He was not of an Old Testament state of mind. He was never looking for God’s judgment for himself—or for others. His faith was mercy- and love-based, which is to say he understood the Gospel, “The Good News,” better than most.

As a believer, who, like his father, loves life—perhaps too much at times—I must say I like where he placed his theological emphasis. Sitting at his bedside with my family, I realized this was his credo: “I was not put on this Earth to tell the truth but to entertain.” But this was not completely true.

He believed at the core of his worldview that our Creator, whom he loved dearly, had a sense of humor—and would somehow find him as entertaining as we did. Frank was funny because he loved life. This is the truth that he was put on this Earth to bring to us all. Love was truth he delivered in jest.

I would not call my father a saint. But I do believe in my heart that my dad will not just make it into Heaven; he will soon be one of Heaven’s leading jesters. The kingdom of God will be improved with his addition. He will certainly have to work hard to come up with “G-rated” material to perform—“G” meaning “God-approved.” He will find his voice, and the angels will laugh.

With the passing of our father, the Lord’s Prayer will take on a new meaning for his sons and grandchildren. From now on, Brothers, we will have two fathers “Who art in Heaven:” our God—Creator of us all—and our Father, creator of a loving family.

Dad, Amen. The end—until we see your face again.

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