As some of you know, I lost my Dad two weeks ago. He could no longer go on. His body was broken by cancer.
He told me many times that I could go to the cemetery if I wanted, but that he would not be there. He would be with me. I have to believe that he is, and that he is now guiding my life, and sending me love.
Dad wanted his children, his wife, and people who cared about him to speak at his service. It was a difficult thing to write, trying to sum up a man's whole life and influence in a few pages. It was even harder to read.
I Want to Share With You the Vast Amount of Wealth that My Dad has Accumulated Over His Lifetime:
Now anyone who knew my Dad would know that I'm not talking about a traditional form of wealth. In terms of money, that never mattered to my Dad. As long as he had enough, that was plenty. In fact, when I think about it, my Dad would have enjoyed it if everyone in this world did a job that they were good at and enjoyed, and everyone just helped each other out.
If you could see past the grease on his hands, and the manure on his boots, then you could begin to see what my Dad thought was important.
My Dad was Rich in His Wife, my Mom:
I truly think he was always tickled pink that he found an adventurous girl. And adventure in my Dad's world took lots of forms. Sometimes it was taking a trip, sometimes it was taking the slate roof off of a barn, sometimes it was just watching him work, and worrying about his safe return.
My Dad was Rich in His Family:
He always took great pride in his family's history. He liked to talk about his ancestors, and their lives and accomplishments. He was happy to be a part of a place that has such deep roots.
He spoke highly of his brother Sam, whom he shared the farm with, and was a brother that took care of him when he was a boy.
He also seemed a bit proud of the 4 of us, in our own ways. His gift to us was his strong support in whatever we chose to do. He talked recently about how important it is to love your kids, and let them choose what makes them happy; To choose their own path. He knew that when you liked your work, you were sure to be good at it.
And Speaking of Work, my Dad was Rich in that too:
He always had more work than he could do. My Dad never advertised once for his backhoe business. Word of mouth and reputation spread quickly about the hard working guy who would get it done, and charge a "reasonable" amount.
The farm work was really a joy to my Dad. He spoke about how he enjoyed riding the tractor and raking the hay. He loved his animals and truly cared for them. He also said that there is no one that enjoys fixing a broken manure spreader.
My Dad was Also Rich in Knowledge:
Many of you may not know that my Dad read nearly every book in his school's library when he was a student. He also graduated at the top of his high school class. He was a straight A student.
Dad also had the kind of knowledge that can only be gained by figuring things out for yourself. If something broke, then he fixed it. As a result, he became handy with a torch, he could weld, and I think he could change a tire in his sleep. So many broken axles, engine replacements, and flat tires. I came to know the local roads simply as references for places that my Dad broke something, and had to walk home, or someone gave him a ride.
I was always amazed that my Dad could barely look at a wrench or a bolt, and know exactly what size it was. As a kid, you couldn't hand him tools fast enough.
Dad had a good friend, Sammy Davis. Sammy taught him how to work on transmissions, which were a mystery to him at the time. Sammy would say:" If anyone can do it, then YOU can do it." That really stuck with my Dad, and became something that he would say often.
And Speaking of Sammy, My Dad was Rich in Friends:
I think my Dad worked at 3 out of 5 houses in Gibsonia, and the surrounding communities. He sometimes couldn't recall his customer's names, but he could tell you what kind of dirt they had. Dad be-friended so many of his customers by doing an honest day's work, and charging an honest amount. He met many people that have meant so much to him. Some of his friends knew him as "Corn Flakes", and some as "Big Al", but mostly just "Al, the guy with the backhoe, just call him, he'll get it done".
His lifelong friends provided support to him in a way that only a lifelong friend can. Bob has been there from the beginning. He was a great friend to the shy kid that my Dad was in High School, and then he introduced his cousin, my Mom, to Dad, and the rest is history.
Ron Weibel has been a rock through my Dad's working career. He and his family have supported my Dad, and taken care of him as a true friend. My Mom took comfort when Dad was working with Weibel. She knew that they'd take care of one another, and that the two of them probably wouldn't get into any kind of trouble that they couldn't get themselves out of. And that was a great relief, because Dad, by himself, couldn't be trusted in that way.
I'll conclude by saying: My Dad embodied the phrase "It is better to give than to receive". Anyone who has ever received something from my Dad knew that it held value to him, and anyone who ever tried to give my Dad anything can tell you how difficult it was.
I ask you to go forth and give of yourself, that would be an honor to my Dad.