In Memory of Dad – 1928-2011

Friday, August 26th, 2011

(shared at dad’s memorial service, Mr. Charles Schneider – for my family)

Its easy to highlight my father as an accomplished, successful man – as society latches onto the concept of success. He defending our country in WWII, then worked 2 jobs in his younger years to support a family of 7. All the while going to school at night so he could advance himself and his career. These were successes that were executed – almost as a reflex – because my dad was cut from a beautifully unique genre of work ethic, loyalty and responsibility.

His early efforts were designed over time to advance his career in the Fire Department in Santa Cruz, CA, which he did, to its highest level possible – as Chief. An admirable feat even for a self-made, self-motivated man. Once retired from the fire department, he continued to expand and mold his career again and again.

Just as his external successes can do, A man’s voice – which tells opinion, perspectives, and wisdom, – can shape and mold another aspect of how he is perceived by others. Yet, though my father had vastly different political and spiritual belief systems in place than most of his kids, he accepted us all within our differences. This acceptance allowed an opening for us to view his as well.

So, while he showed who he was through his work, and through these various inflections of his voice, he had an equally prominent impact through his actions. One of Dad’s loudest gifts will be how his actions affected who we’ve become, and subsequently who we are for others. His actions spoke of strength, steady and consistent support, confidence, acceptance, and unrelenting work ethic, – all framed and wrapped with a soft sweet edge of love and caring.

Yet his outward success – his voice – and even his actions, are never the enduring legacy of a man. A man’s deepest legacy is the part of his authentic character that forever resides in those left behind. My fathers richest offering is our knowing that all of his children and grandchildren will celebrate and reflect on his life – while feeling whole and complete in who he was for us – and who we are for each other.

In many ways our lives are molded by our perceptions of our experiences. But how we are in the world to others is also shaped by how we are loved.

When Dad hugged –  it was easy to hear the words – “I love you” before he stated them verbally. He was not in the habit of initiating regular chit chat or verbal connection, but everyone in our family – no matter where or how we would wander – were always solidly sure of Dads love.

He created his own unique space of love for each of us. And we all chose to step into it and remain in it – together—emulating that love and support for each other. He offered us that possibility – and – Each of us in our own amazing ways will continue to offer that endowment in our communities to those who are in need of its power.

I have been asked many times who my heros are – in particular in sport. In our society we often associate “hero” with being someone who has accomplished some monumental feat or has unusual talent or vigor beyond the norm for what they take on in life. Yet don’t regular hard working folks have just as much passion for their accomplishments as do the more privileged? Even when their road to life successes is more vigorous than those for whom it was handed.

As a young girl I was intrigued by professional athletes just like any kid, but I realized early on that true heroic feats were happening all around me—daily, by people going big in their lives and taking on their dreams. My father was one of those people. My father was my first hero.

He recognized my unharnessed enthusiasm and shared something with me, at a young age, that has remained a defining moment. He said, “Honey, it doesn’t matter to me what you decide to do with your life. But whatever you set your sights on, go after it. Work hard and be the best you can at whatever you choose.”

He taught me that no matter what we do in life we go after it with; dignity, integrity and hard work – then we can respect ourselves. We can then be our own hero and embody the possibility of self respect for all of those around us.

Dad quietly yet profoundly supported that process for each of us. And as a result we all covet unyielding support for each other and respect for ourselves. And I am honored to be able to say that I hold deep love for each of my siblings. Not because we are blood, but because of who they are for their families and communities. That is possible with the love and acceptance we received from our dad on all levels.

My fathers honor will continue to be celebrated. Not just in our minds and hearts, but through us. Those we encounter will be touched and moved by his presence in our lives. If this essence alone highlights who my father was, then his life has been generous and noble indeed.


Comments

  1. Terri,

    I am very sorry for your loss of your father. I read your blog and I was so moved by your words. You are a beautiful writer…thank you for sharing. What a wonderful man and incredible lessons.
    You are in my thoughts!

    Tammara

    • Thanks Tammara – much appreciated.

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