This is what I wrote and read at my dad's funeral on Jan. 31, 2017. I miss you every day dad. I know they say it will get easier, but I'm just not seeing that yet.
My dad was a builder.
And I say that, not in the sense he was a carpenter, although we all know he loved working with wood. I can’t look in any room of my house without seeing something he created. From Claire’s American Girl doll bed, to my grandfather clock, to the glider in my guest room, I see his handiwork everywhere. And in fact he is being buried in a metal casket because it pained him to think of all that beautiful wood going to waste. His feeling is that it was better used to create a thing of beauty than to be buried in the ground.
What I mean by him being a builder, is that he could take the pieces of things and make something beautiful.
He built our family with my mom. I don’t know many families like ours, and I contribute so much of that to the way my dad raised us. We were taught that each member of the family was like a piece to the puzzle, and that we are all at our most complete and strong when we are all together. He instilled in us all the importance of family, and that has now been passed to our children. This family is strong, and united, and full of love, because my dad built us that way.
He built a business. For over 40 years my dad practiced chiropractic in this community. He believed more than almost anything that his purpose on this planet, that his God given gift, was to help heal people. And heal people he did. He built his business with the philosophy that the body has the capacity to heal itself. And he spent his adult life using that philosophy to rebuild the health of so many. With the gift he carried in his hands, he made people feel better, and with the kindness in his heart, he listened to their stories, their fears, and their joys. He built a business based in his own beliefs, unlike none other I have ever known.
He helped build this community. Through his work in his business, his work with the Chamber, the school board, Lions club, his church, and many other things, his contributions were many. He often didn’t sit quietly when he didn’t agree with things, and you always knew where he stood. He always stood up when he felt things weren’t right, and honestly sometimes, just because he liked a good argument. But no matter what, he cared about what happened here. He cared about his neighbors, and his community.
And here is the one that’s hardest to speak about. He helped build me. I’m not speaking in the biological sense, although that is true…. What I mean, and what I am afraid I will miss the most, is he had this ability to take the parts of my life that seemed scattered and sometimes broken, and help me rebuild them into something better and stronger. Dad was the glue that put me back together so many times. When there were things in my life that seemed dark and made me ashamed, he was the one who showed me that there was always a lesson, and that we could always come back if we chose too. When relationships failed, he always said to me that it was because it wasn’t the right one and to hold on because it would come, and it did. When my son was sick and the future was just too scary to contemplate, he was there with me at night in the hospital telling me I was strong enough to make it, and Andy would “show them and be just fine.” And he was right.
That is the builder I will miss the most. The one who always had the right words to make it feel better. The one who had the glue to put the pieces back in place. Because for all the beauty he created for the rest of the world, the beauty he created for me was tenfold.
This leads me to my final thought.
He built a foundation. As I think back on all I have mentioned above, I know that although his loss is painful and hard, and as many times as I will want to pick up the phone to ask “Dad…what do I do about this?” I know if I look in my heart, I already have the answers. He built the foundation in me that gives me reason, and bravery, and FAITH, and the ability to argue, and see the humor, and see the good in all. HE taught me that. All the things he helped me with I can do now on my own. Because I have the answers I need.
And I have them, because my dad was a builder.