Wednesday, February 06, 2013

My Eulogy for Dad

I want to thank you all for coming today. 

Most of you knew Dad personally, but if you didn’t, and you knew one of us, you knew Dad.  He was the most important influence in his children’s lives, and by transference, in the lives of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Dad believed and lived many virtues:  honesty, integrity, generosity, compassion, stewardship, and patriotism, among many others. 

But what was most important to Dad was family.  And his family was large.  I’m not just talking about his immediate family, which includes five children, seven grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren, along with spouses.  But he included Mom’s family, his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and their families, his friends from Selama Grotto and his Masonic brothers. In fact, when I was young, I thought the “G” in the Masonic symbol stood for “Griffith.” He played counselor, umpire, handyman, chauffeur, financier, and teacher to anyone in need. 

I think he enjoyed the role of teacher the most.  Sometimes he taught formally, as when he worked with the members of the Masonic Lodge in learning their rituals or when he taught diesel mechanics at Mt. Hood Community College.  More often he taught informally, as when he taught the boys in the family how to fish, or how to replace a clutch. Mostly he taught by example.

He loved to read to children.  Mom said I often backed up to him when I was a toddler with the funnies in my hand for him to read.  His grandchildren and great grandchildren knew Pop Pop would take the time to read a book to them when mommies and daddies were too busy.  I never saw Dad in a rush … his words and deeds were slow and deliberate. 

Dad wasn’t perfect. He told me, “I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong.”  Mom would say she’d send him out with three things to do, and he’d come back home having done one.  She’d send him out again … and he’d come back having done one more.  Then she’d have to send him out again.  But it was having that one-track mind that let him focus on the important things and let all the trivia slide by.  Dad used that to fix anything … from skinned knees to broken carburetors. 

My brother Joe Allen often says that Dad was the smartest person he ever knew.  Even though his formal schooling ended with an associate’s degree, he read so much that he should have earned an honorary PhD.  .  He read the paper every day, read the entire Bible, and even the dictionary. He could pull a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville as easily as he could quote a Hank Williams’ lyric.  I was always thrilled when I could tell him something he didn’t know … which wasn’t often.  As smart as he was, he tended to enjoy the simple things in life like playing cards and fishing.  In fact, his idea of a party was a moon pie and an R.C. cola.

When you think about the span of Dad’s life and what he did, it is amazing.  He was born the year that Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic.  He was raised on a West Virginia farm during the depression.  He served in the Navy during the Korean conflict, and saw the first test of the H-bomb in the Pacific. He saw TV invented, a man walk on the moon, and the explosion of technology.  He even used a computer and cell phone himself.  He crossed the continent numerous times, toured the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and finally, in 1971,  made Pinellas Park his home.  He and Mom made a comfortable life for themselves, and with their family all living nearby, settled into a life of love and service. 

Four generations were represented in his home as he drew his last breath, including all five of his children. Dad lived life on his own terms, and he left this life in the same way.  We were so blessed to have been there to say good-bye. 


Post a Comment

<< Home