How can anyone condense 43 years of being raised by an extraordinary man into a few paragraphs?
You might speak of the things that you know will live on with you even after he is gone. Like places you will go to feel his presence. For me there are so many, but a place I’ll visit often is Old Hickory Lake, sitting on the shoreline reminiscing about the times we fished bass tournaments. Just us, sometimes talking, sometimes just being in the moment, but always catching fish. I treasured my time alone with him just as much as the time we spent as a family. But I can’t look at any lake without thinking of my father and that’s probably why I found myself sitting in front of one to write this eulogy.
You could speak about the life lessons. We didn’t want for much growing up, he gave us everything he had… but he made us learn to appreciate it in the same respect. A story I tell often when I speak of my dad is that we had motorcycles growing up but we also had a farm so he would tell us kids, “we got a lot of work to do and if we finish it before the sun goes down you guys can ride those bikes”… it made us work twice as fast. At the time, we didn’t know it was a lesson that we would apply in our adulthood.
You speak of the things that make you smile. Like his passions. And my father was passionate about everything. He didn’t do things half way, it was all or nothing. When I told him I wanted a horse for my 16th birthday, he didn’t just buy me a horse, he added onto the barn, built an arena, watched horse training videos, and even started a horse magazine that he and my mom ran for several years. That’s how dad was, if you are going to do something… do it with everything you got!
He did everything that way.
You speak of his gifts and talents. There were so many. He was so wise. All of the songs played at his funeral were ones that he wrote and a few that were of him singing. I remember nights he would come in and he’d say “Lyn, I wrote a smash” and he would prop his foot up on the stool, strum his guitar and sing us his latest creation. I have a lot of those songs on cd’s that I still listen to from time to time. I would probably say at least 90% of his country love songs were written about my mom… so when you hear them, it is just one more demonstration of how much he loved her and how much she inspired him.
You would need to speak of the past because that is what made him into the man he was. He grew up poor and had a pretty hard life, but there was one person that he talked about all of the time and that was his Grandma Parker, my sister’s son’s namesake. She didn’t live long enough for us kids to get to know her the way he did, but he made sure we knew the influence she had on him. That was to love the Lord, tell everyone you can about our Savior, ask for forgiveness, and be humble. She told him one time he was going to be a preacher. He laughed. But ultimately he really was, maybe not in a church, but he preached to anyone who would listen. I believe he is with her now and I know that she couldn’t wait to hug her grandson and tell him “JOB WELL DONE” and maybe, knowing our family, even a little “I told you so Robert, about the preaching” as she embraced him in heaven on Friday.
My father is so intertwined with the woman I have become. And I know in my heart that he was proud of that woman. I am thankful that I had a father who cared enough about me to tell me what I deserved. I am thankful that even though I put him through hell sometimes, he never bailed, he never strayed, and he never gave up on me. I am blessed to have experienced unconditional love.
As a parent, I know and respect the sacrifices he and mom made to give us the life we had. As a daughter, I can’t thank him enough for the time he spent with us and wish we had more. Whether it was coaching us in softball, making videos, going on vacations, giving us words of wisdom, laughing till it hurt or teaching us life lessons. Children are funny though, so self absorbed that we don’t even realize the memories we are making in those moments will be the ones that bring us peace as adults.
I don’t know that I have peace yet and I don’t know when it will come but I do know that it exist in the memories of a man that was my hero and who has left a void that can not be replaced in our lives.
There is so much I could share about my dad, but I wanted to share something that was a part of our holidays. Dad would often mix a DVD for us to watch of old and recent family videos on Thanksgiving. It was a big part of our lives and the one I’m sharing today is one that I always loved. If you know anything about film, you’ll know how much time and talent it took to create this video. Please enjoy my dad being just a little silly.
(In loving memory of Robert: March 3, 1948 - November 17, 2017)