It has been two months today since my dad died. I continue to have what I call snapshot images of him before, during, and after his illness and death. He was such a special man.
My dad was a true giant among men. He's my hero. He had a gentle, giving spirit. He was loving and kind and everyone who knew him loved him. My dad died January 15, 1999. My mom and I are still grieving for him and I thought this webpage might be a way to help me,and others who have known a similar grief.
My dad was a devout Christian. His light shone for all the world to see through his deeds. He served as Sunday School Superintendent for over 30 years, and taught Sunday School classes of various ages for the same length of time. He served as Lay Leader, Vice Chairman of the Board and Usher. He loved God, he loved hearing about His Word and he loved serving Him.
My dad loved his family. My mom and I and his older sister are his closest survivors. We miss him so much. He had a host of nieces and nephews that he adored and considered as daughters and sons. He also loved his great nieces and nephews and most recently the "great-greats." He was a remarkable man. He never made a difference between in-laws and his side of the family. He considered my mother's brother to be his brother. I remember the first time I saw my dad cry; it was when my maternal grandmother died. I was 12 years old and it affected me deeply to see how much my dad cared. Through marriage to my mom, my mom's mother had become his mother. He'd lost both his mother and father when he was four years old. My maternal grandmother helped fill a void in his life. His love for others was tremendous, and he never hesitated to show it.
He loved the outdoors and enjoyed gardening. He had a "green thumb" and loved planting vegetables and flowers. He delighted in sharing these with others. He looked forward to springtime and planting. He nurtured the land and never took from it without giving back in return. He was the same way with people.
He worked as a weaver and later as a receiving clerk in a textile mill. Even though he didn't have much education, he was intelligent and well read. He delighted in politics and was never prouder than when I went to work for our local congressman. Never having had an education, my dad made sure that I pursued mine and was beaming on December 17, 1997, when I received my Master's Degree.
He loved the Blue Ridge Mountains of Patrick County, Virginia, where he was raised. We were last there on my mom's birthday, 8/30/98, and had a wonderful day. He said the mountains were in our blood and he is right. It's so beautiful there that it takes my breath away. We discovered the two covered bridges and he felt the same fascination for them that I do.
Next to Patrick County, my dad loved the seashore the best. He loved the Myrtle Beach area. He loved watching the waves and enjoyed walking on the soft sand at water's edge. He loved sitting on the balcony of the condo unit that we rented (which he called the Penthouse). He enjoyed talking about the beauty and splendor of God's world as the tides rolled into shore. He loved sitting in the rocking chairs at Barefoot Landing while my mom and I shopped. He would always hold our packages.
I am including this poem written by my cousin, who is my dad's great nephew. I think Dan described him perfectly in the poem. This poem was first read as part of my dad's eulogy at his funeral on January 17, 1999.
THE GIFT OF UNCLE BILL
He was not the one we'd see first, entering the room at Christmas or Thanksgiving. It was never his voice booming at the table spread with all our holiday traditions or his tone of voice, demanding our attention.
He kept to his corner, tending the home fire, making sure there was a place to warm our hands and hearts, a gentle space where we could hear ourselves think, and feel a peace that still passes understanding.
It was too easy not to notice his strength when he held each niece and nephew in such a tender open palm, for a season here or there, never asking for a minute more, even when receiving less of our time than he would have liked to share.
Only he knew then that love is measured by the moment, landing safely only when it flies, And that sins are best forgiven without question, with the eyes.
His voice seldom turned our heads but when it was his time to speak we bowed our heads and felt the holiness of spirit that he made his way of living. It was his gift whether or not we remembered to be grateful, and thanks to the God he served, a gift that now and for as long as any one of us still lives, will always keep on giving.
~Written by Dan Stone, January 16, 1999.
You can send email to Jennifer at: [email protected]
anniversary date 01-15-99
date of post 03-15-99